Reaching peace through soccer

Wednesday, December 27, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
Maybe Israelis and Palestinians can’t find much in common these days in the areas of security and politics, but there is one subject they can both agree on: soccer.

In a tradition that has been going on for several years, the “Peace Game” will be played Wednesday night in the Spanish city of Seville between a team of Israeli and Palestinian soccer all-stars and a team of Spanish all-stars from the Andalusia region. The much anticipated game is organized by the Peres Center for Peace and is intended to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians and show that there are ways to find commonalities through sports.

As far as international interest in the game, no less than 115 countries had purchased broadcast rights to the game, including the Arab Al-Jazeerah satellite network, and the media coverage in Spain has also been comprehensive. The “Ramon Sanchez Pijuan” stadium in Seville, home to the current leader of the Spanish premier league, will be packed with 72,000 fans who will be rooting for a fair game. The fans who arrived as guests of the Peres Center include Palestinian and Israeli children, some of whom came from Sderot to see the game.

The Israeli players who will be playing in the game include international players such as Dudu Awatte who plays in Spain and Yossi Benayoun who plays in England, and they will be joined by a series of other top Israeli players and top Palestinian players who will be playing on the same side. The joint Israeli/Palestinian team will be coached by Avraham Grant who is the former national team coach and currently coaches in England.

The Spanish players will include stars such as Juaquin, Jose Antonio Reyes, and Serjio Ramos, among other premier league and national team players.

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