Israelis and Palestinians team up in Barcelona

All the gate income from the game is intended to help improve the lives of Israeli and Palestinian children in need.

November 29, 2005 04:20
Israelis and Palestinians team up in Barcelona

match for peace 88. (photo credit: )


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The Catalonian capital is gearing up for a "Match for Peace" to be held in the city's Nou Camp Stadium on Tuesday night between a special selection of Israeli and Palestinian players and Spanish champions FC Barcelona. The game is being held to promote peace in the Middle East and is supported by FC Barcelona and the Peres Centre for Peace founded by the former Israeli prime minister. "The aim of the match is to send a message of peace. I think that football is more powerful then any borders, race and hate. It shows what we can do when we work together", Shimon Peres said. All the gate income from the game is intended to help improve the lives of Israeli and Palestinian children in need. As well as the economic objectives, it is hoped the game will develop links of respect and understanding between the Israeli and Palestinian communities. The game will also be celebrating Barca's 106th anniversary, which falls on the 29th November. Israel's new national Coach Dror Kashtan and Palestinian Coach Gamal Hadyda will manage the mixed Israeli-Palestinian team. Israeli internationals Avi Nimni, Arik Benado, Idan Tal, Walid Badir and Abbas Suan will play in the Israeli team. Suan told The Jerusalem Post: "It's a great experience for everybody. There's an objective to this match and we hope that we can make a step towards peace through this match. Suan continued and said: "I think that sport is the shortest route to peace. We will do what we can and we hope that the politicians will do the rest of the job. Israel Captain Avi Nimni spoke of his hopes that the event will have a positive influence oin the peace process. "The political situation is complicated and I hope that we can contribute to the peace process through the soccer field," Nimni said. Twelve Palestinian players will be part of the mixed team. The only professional Palestinian player is Fahed Ali Haldon, who has previously played in the Jordanian top league. The rest of the Palestinian players are amateurs from the West Bank. Facing the Israeli-Palestinian team will be a full strength Barcelona side including, Brazilian Ronaldinho, Cameroon international Samuel Eto'o and Portuguese midfielder Deco. Special guests will include Scottish actor Sean Connery, former Betar coach Eli Ohana and former Israeli national coach Shlomo Scharf. The Peres center has also flown a group of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers who have been participating in a Soccer project, where the teenagers have met for once a month for the last three years. The game will also see the first performance of a new piece of music specially created for the occasion by the Israeli musician David Broza, who in a symbol of unity will perform the piece with the Palestine musician Said Murad of the group 'Sabreen'. Ronaldinho will not only be celebrating Barcelona's anniversary and the prospects for peace on Tuesday night. The Brazilian playmaker was, as widely predicted, awarded the coveted GoldenBall award for European player of the year, in Paris on Monday. Ronaldinho finished ahead of Chelsea's Frank Lampard and Liverpool's Steven Gerrard. Andriy Shevchenko of AC Milan, last year's winner, placed fifth behind Thierry Henry of Arsenal. "This is a dream come true," said Ronaldinho, who won the FIFA player of the year award last year. "When I see all the names on the list, when I see my idols Ronaldo and Rivaldo, I realize this is a great honor." "God gives gifts to everyone," Ronaldinho said. "Some can write, some can dance. He gave me the skill to play football and I am making the most of it." The 25-year-old joined Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain in 2003 and has scored 33 league goals in 79 games, including nine this season. He has also scored 13 times in 19 Champions League matches for Barcelona. He has played 62 times for Brazil and scored 27 times. He helped the team win its fifth World Cup title in 2002 in Japan The 'Match for Peace' will be broadcast live on Israeli Channel 10 at 10:30 p.m. and around the world on ESPN.

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