Roma set for missing children talks with other European clubs

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Roma: The Serie A club raising awareness of missing children

Roma are set to have talks with other European clubs about raising awareness of missing children after a groundbreaking social media campaign.

The Italian club showed videos of missing children when signing players over the past two transfer windows, and six children featured have been found.

Roma hope to draw on the support of other clubs for International Missing Children's Day on 25 May.

"I think it will catch on with other clubs," said Roma's Chris Smalling.

"I thought it was a great initiative, and to be honest, given how popular and how much impact it has had, I'm surprised it's not happened previously.

"But full credit to Roma, to be the ones to really start something."

The Serie A club teamed up with 12 charities and organisations around the globe to show the videos, which were tailored according to which player they signed.

Three of the children found were from London with two in Kenya and another from Belgium.

One of the Kenyan children found was featured in Smalling's transfer video after he signed on loan from Manchester United.

The defender added: "It was a really powerful moment for me, and an amazing thing for the family.

"Being a father now, not knowing where your child is is one of toughest things to have to deal with in life and I wouldn't want to wish that on anybody."

Roma have featured 132 missing children cases across 12 different countries
Roma have featured 132 missing children cases across 12 different countries

Clubs can make a 'massive difference'

Roma's chief strategy officer Paul Rogers said the initial campaign - which was inspired by the video for Soul Asylum's 1990s hit Runaway Train - had support from fans all over Europe.

And he believes help from other clubs could find even more missing children.

He told BBC Sport: "What Roma can do on its own is nowhere near what other clubs could do if we all got together.

"We're looking at a campaign on 25 May which is International Missing Children's Day, where we try and unite the football world behind the same campaign and not just through transfers.

"I don't expect we will have any kick-back when we approach other clubs and ask if they will join the campaign. This isn't around transfers or Roma, it's about different children around the world who are missing and can football clubs and the power of social media do something to bring them home."

In the UK, Roma partnered with the charity Missing People, who say 86,000 children go missing every year.

Chief executive Jo Youle said Roma's involvement had made a "massive difference" to their campaign.

"For families, just to know that people care makes a difference but it also helps find children," she said.

"A football club brings a platform of millions of fans who follow them closely and listen to what they say.

"We would love other clubs to get involved in time to appeal for missing children."

That sentiment was echoed by Peter Boxell, who son has been missing for 32 years and was featured in Roma's campaign.

He accepts that Lee may not be found alive but says he "derives strength" from helping others find their missing children and believes clubs could be a great source of help.

"I was absolutely delighted when I found out six children had been found," he said.

"Even if one child had been found it's so worthwhile doing. I just hope other clubs follow suit and do the same thing."

Peter Boxell pictured with his son, Lee, before he went missing in 1988
Peter Boxell pictured with his son, Lee, before he went missing in 1988

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