SBJ/June 9 - 15, 2003/This Weeks Issue

Online jersey auction in Columbus comes to aid of diabetes research

The Columbus Crew is creating Soccer Aid, a consumer program that will invite fans to log onto the team's Web site (thecrew.com) and bid on one-of-a-kind soccer jerseys, with all proceeds from the online auctions going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Columbus Crew coach Greg Andrulis, whose 8-year-old son, Austin, has diabetes, developed the idea for Soccer Aid.

It's fashioned after a program in the United Kingdom called Football Aid, launched in 2001 to raise money for diabetes research there.

The four-week Soccer Aid program, which starts today, will offer at least eight jerseys for bid each week. Bidding starts at $100.

The list of players whose jerseys will be offered will include members of the Crew, a variety of Major League Soccer stars and several members of the U.S. national team that reached the quarterfinals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

In addition to snagging the jerseys, winning bidders will get the opportunity to play in a 30-minute soccer match on the Columbus Crew Stadium field immediately before the Crew's July 19 home game.

Each winning bidder also will receive a behind-the-scenes VIP tour of Crew Stadium on July 19. That tour is expected to include a meet-and-greet with the Crew coaching staff and some of the team's players.

"The goal is to make this an annual program," said Andrew Kossoff, the Crew's vice president of corporate partnerships and business development. "It's for a worthy cause. And it's an opportunity that fans can't get anywhere else."

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