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Sixteen of the mascots for the Champions League final in Istanbul are children from one of the areas of Turkey that was devastated by the earthquake in February.

Many of them lost their homes and schools in the earthquake and have been living in converted containers and tents for the past four months, in the southern province of Hatay.

Tonight the group, aged between six and nine, will walk out with players from Manchester City and Inter Milan ahead of the showpiece fixture at the Ataturk Stadium.

The children have been invited and taken to Istanbul for the game by Save The Children and Mastercard, and yesterday were playing football at an event in the city with former Inter centre-back Marco Materazzi, which was refereed by the former Turkey manager Fatih Terim.

They have been joined on the trip by parents and child psychologists, to support the children throughout.
Save The Children, in collaboration with with Mastercard and UEFA’s charitable arm, the UEFA Foundation, are rehabilitating and building three football pitches in Hatay, Gaziantep and Adiyaman, three of the worst earthquake-affected areas of Turkey.

There are 9.1million people still in need of humanitarian assistance across Turkey, four months after the earthquakes took place. Of these, 2.5m are children. A total of 50,783 people died in Turkey due to the earthquakes.

Ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final in Istanbul, The Athletic’s Adam Leventhal visited Turkey for a series of reports examining the impact of February’s earthquakes on the country, its people and their football clubs. You can read Adam’s three-part report below.

(Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)



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