Israelis and Palestinians play for peace

Joint team participates in charity game in Spain organized by Peres Center.

peres sports 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
peres sports 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It's not often that a losing team's dressing room is full of smiles after a match, but on Wednesday night in the Olympic Stadium in Seville the final result was the last thing on the players minds. An Andalucian select team defeated a joint Israeli-Palestinian side 3-1 in the Match for Peace, but with the message of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation successfully conveyed there were no losers. Vice Premier Shimon Peres kicked off the game, which was organized by the Peres Center for Peace. After six minutes Daniel Guiza gave the hosts the lead with an accurate shot from outside the box. In the 17th minute Guiza doubled his side's lead when he finished off an excellent team move. A minute before half time Klemi Saban got a goal back for the Israeli-Palestinian side, clinically slotting the ball past the keeper. However, in the 70th minute the Andalucians secured the win when Alfaro rounded the 'keeper and scored into the empty net. Speaking before the match, Haim Revivo, who came out of retirement to play for the Israeli-Palestinian side, explained how important he thought the project is. "We may not change things in our country in the same way politicians do, but we do change the way of thinking in such places as Barcelona and Andalucia. We help the people here feel like they are contributing to peace." Palestinian Muhammad Ashour was very happy to play with his new Israeli teammates and even expressed a wish to play with Israelis on a regular basis. "It was fun to train and play with the Israelis. I would like to play for an Israeli club in the future. However there are many obstacles in the way which make that impossible," Ashour said. "This match is important in the road for peace," Andalucian coach Jose Enrique Diaz said. "This is a festive event and I'm proud and happy at being a part of it." Deportivo La Coruna player Juanme was also delighted to take part in the game. "It's important that we play these sorts of matches. We want our fans to enjoy themselves and we are pleased that we can also advance the peace in the Middle East at the same time," he said. A couple hours before the match kicked off Peres, Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub and Prime Minister of the Andalucian Regional Government Manual Chavez held a joint press conference and pledged to continue to promote peace through sports. "We are trying to make peace, not just between governments, but also between people," Peres said. "Sports and arts bring people together and we are trying to build a future of peace and understanding." Despite not being a big sports fan, Peres spoke of the influence soccer stars can have on the peace process. "Today's children's heroes are not politicians but footballers and movie stars. I am not a football expert however the more I meet the football players I'm pleased to see how happy they are to help the children and further peace." Jibril Rajoub, who represented Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at the Match for Peace, stressed the bravery of the players taking part. "The participation of both sets of players in this match wasn't easy," Rajoub said. "They were criticized by a lot of people but they still came despite all the difficulties to promote peace." Chavez was extremely pleased to host the match and explained why he feels soccer can promote peace. "We were very excited to host this event which brings together Israeli and Palestinian players and calls for peace." Chavez said. "I think that the game of football can be a very important step forward and it shows Israelis and Palestinians can work together and that both sides strive for peace."