Soccer: Van Nistelrooy and Raul to play in Israel

Real Madrid star strikers to have "peace match" against a joint Israeli-Palestinian team.

soccer ball 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
soccer ball 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Real Madrid star strikers Raul and Ruud Van Nistelrooy were amongst the 12 players the Peres Center for Peace on Thursday confirmed would be flying to Israel later this month to play in a "peace match" against a joint Israeli-Palestinian team. Although England's David Beckham pulled out of the trip last week, goalkeeper Iker Casillas, defenders Sergio Ramos and Michel Salgado and midfielders Emerson and Guti will be in the Madrid squad which will fly into Israel on June 19. The match will be held that evening at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan, just two days after the last game of the Spanish season. With two matches left, Madrid is currently locked in a tight battle with rival Barcelona at the top of the Primera Division. Both have 72 league points, leading Seville by two points. Barcelona plays Espanyol on Saturday and Madrid faces Real Zaragoza. While in Israel the Real players will meet with Israeli and Palestinian children who regularly train together at the Peres Center soccer schools. "The Real Madrid stars are setting a good example of how soccer can be used as an international language between cultures, states and peoples that are sometimes in conflict," said Gal Peleg, the manager of the Peres Center's sports division. "It is a great compliment to know that the players of such a prestigious team are participating in an event aimed towards this goal and will finish their season here in Israel. The game will be the follows a number of other high profile peace matches organized by the Peres Center. Last year a joint Israeli-Palestinian squad traveled to play Seville in the city's Olympic Stadium and in 2005 a match was played against Barcelona at the Nou Camp.