German soccer star Mesut Özil uses World Cup money to pay for Brazilian kids’ operations

Özil celebrating in the German locker room post-final.

Mesut Özil, star midfielder for the World Cup champion German national team, has donated his share of the Cup winnings to pay for the surgeries of twenty-three Brazilian children.

Before the tournament, Özil paid for eleven such surgeries. His reasoning behind that particular number was that eleven is the number of players to a side on the soccer pitch.

However, after winning the Cup, Özil made the following update to his Facebook page:

dear fans,
prior to the #WorldCup I supported the surgery of eleven sick children. since the victory of the #WorldCup is not only due to eleven players but to our whole team, I will now raise the number to 23. this is my personal thank-you for the hospitality of the people of Brazil.

The BigShoe fund has helped needy children receive medical care since 2006.

The BigShoe fund has helped needy children receive medical care since 2006.

Following his words, Özil linked to BigShoe, the fund his money went to support. BigShoe collects donations to pay the medical expenses of needy children the world over.

The fund began in 2006, when Germany hosted the World Cup. The national team of Togo, based in Allgäu for the tournament, raised money for a local Togolese boy who needed surgery for a cleft palate.

Each German player received 300,000 Euros–just over $400,000 US–as a World Cup victory bonus.

Özil is only the most recent player to donate World Cup bonuses to a charitable cause. The Algerian national team gave its entire prize fund to victims of the conflict in Gaza. And the Greek squad gave its money back to the national organization, asking that it be used to construct a proper training center instead.

 Özil + trophy

FIFA awards the winner of the Cup approximately twenty million British pounds, or just shy of thirty-five million American dollars. The runner-up receives fifteen million pounds.

Teams that reach the group stage receive five million pounds each. And every team in the tournament receives a baseline participation fee of eight hundred thousand pounds, which works out to about one-point-four million in American cash.

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