Shalom Life | August 18, 2014

Messi Tapped by Pope Francis for Israel-Palestinian Peace Match

"The Match of Peace," organized by the pontiff himself, will take place at the Olympic Stadium in Rome

By: Peter Herriman

Published: August 13th, 2014 in Sports » World

Earlier this week, we learned that Pope Francis was personally organizing an all-star football 'peace match' to promote coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians.

Now, Argentina’s star player Lionel Messi has said that the pontiff personally called him to play in the match, scheduled for September 1st in Rome.

The match will reportedly include other all-star football players as well.

Entitled “The Match of Peace,” it will take place at Rome's acclaimed Olympic Stadium. While the entire list of all stars has yet to be announced, fellow Argentinian star Diego Maradona is also scheduled to participate.

Messi, who is the star Barcelona FC striker and UNICEF ambassador, may have been tapped due to his involvement in the Gaza crisis. Last week, the star striker posted a photo of a wounded Palestinian child from the Gaza Strip on his Facebook page, calling to end all violence affecting children in the region.

“I am terribly saddened by the images coming from the conflict between Israel and Palestine, where violence has already claimed so many young lives and to injure countless children,” Messi shared, in both English and Arabic, with his nearly 68 million Facebook followers.

Yossi Benayoun, Israel’s star player in recent years, will also participate in next month’s Rome match, as will players from Russia, Cameroon, Italy, France and Brazil.

The Pupi Foundation, a charity founded by the Argentine soccer player Javer “Pupi” Zanetti, as well as the Pontifical Academy for Social Science will host the match.

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