The striker will support the agency's global initiatives, which estimates that 250 million children and adolescents lack access to education

Following in Pele's footsteps, Vinícius Junior appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

La directora general de la UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, y el futbolista brasileño Vinícius Junior, recién nombrado Embajador de Buena Voluntad para la campaña Educación para todos, durante una ceremonia en el centro de entrenamiento del Real Madrid - © UNESCO/Juan Barbosa
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and Brazilian footballer Vinícius Junior, newly appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the Education for All campaign, during a ceremony at the Real Madrid training centre - UNESCO/Juan Barbosa

At a ceremony at Real Madrid's training centre on Friday, the head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Agency (UNESCO) presented Brazilian football sensation Vinícius Junior as its new Goodwill Ambassador for the Education for All campaign. 

Audrey Azoulay presented the 23-year-old with a letter of appointment recognizing his exceptional achievements on the pitch and his unwavering commitment to promoting equal educational opportunities in Brazil. 

  1. A role model for a generation 
  2. Crusade against racism 

A role model for a generation 

This is the second time in the agency's history that a Brazilian footballer has been named a Goodwill Ambassador, following in the footsteps of the legendary Pele.   

"Vinícius is a role model for a whole generation and UNESCO is privileged to have him join our esteemed group of Goodwill Ambassadors," said the Director-General. 

Junior expressed his gratitude for the honour and acknowledged it as a lifetime achievement and duty.  

"I want to be recognised not only as a great player, but also as a citizen who strives to make a difference. My commitment to education began at the age of 19 and, with the support of UNESCO, we aim to make a positive impact around the world through my institute," he said. 

In 2021, the player created the Viní Jr Institute, which is dedicated to helping underprivileged Brazilian children and adolescents reintegrate into the education system. 

The centre uses the values of sport to inspire students from diverse backgrounds to continue their education. 

Crusade against racism 

Vinícius Júnior's dedication to social justice is evident in his advocacy against discrimination and prejudice, especially in the cases of racism that he and others face, on and off the pitch. 

His collaboration with FIFA and Brazil on the Racism, Don't Pretend You Don't See It campaign earned him the prestigious Socrates 2023 Award, which he received last year during the Ballon d'Or award night, the world's most important football awards ceremony. 

In line with UNESCO's goal of promoting education for all, Vinícius Junior will play a crucial role by speaking at international conferences, engaging in dialogue with Member States and the public, and supporting the agency's global education initiatives. 

The agency estimates that approximately 250 million children and adolescents currently lack access to education, an increase of six million since 2021.

In addition, seven out of 10 children cannot read or understand basic text by the age of 10, highlighting the urgent need for action to address the social inequality that fuels dropout rates and learning deficiencies.