Barcelona strike Lionel Messi 370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Spanish champion Barcelona, including Leo Messi and new signing Neymar, will arrive in Israel on Saturday afternoon for what it has branded as the Peace Tour in the Middle East.
Barcelona will not play any matches in the region, but it will visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem and the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
The squad will also meet Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, where the team will be staying, as well as the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.
Tata Martino’s team will lead two soccer clinics with Israeli and Palestinian children in Dura Stadium near Hebron on Saturday and in Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv-Jaffa on Sunday.
Barca will arrive in Israel the day after the Joan Gamper Trophy match against Brazilian team Santos for what the club is calling a “historic” trip with the aim of “strengthening institutional ties with the leaders of the two communities and build bridges of dialogue for peace.”
The Barcelona delegation, which will be led by President Sandro Rosell, will leave for a visit at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem after landing at Ben-Gurion Airport on Saturday before making a stop at the Muqata headquarters of the Palestinian president.
At the Municipal Stadium in Dura a clinic will be held that will consist of workshops and a diverse array of mini-games in which dozens of Palestinian children will participate.
On Sunday, the team will visit the Western Wall before taking part in an official reception with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres in the president’s residence.
At around 6 p.m., the team is scheduled to arrive at Bloomfield where a capacity crowd of 14,500 spectators, who all received free tickets, will be on hand to watch the clinic.
As a part of clinic, the Minister of Education, Rabbi Shay Piron, will launch “The Other is Me” initiative which is aimed at increasing tolerance and peace in the country’s educational system.
Barcelona will leave Israel just before midnight on Sunday on a flight for Bangkok, the first stop of its Asia Tour.