Pope Francis has called for an exhibition football match to promote a peaceful resolution to the ongoing violence in the Gaza strip.
The exhibition game is scheduled to take place on September 1 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. Barcelona and Argentina great Lionel Messi is expected to take part, and so is Brazilian and Barcelona superstar Neymar. Football legends Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane might also participate. Maradona has expressed that it is an honour to be invited to the event by the Pope.
The description on the Official website says:
“On September 1st, 2014, in Rome, the best soccer players in the world, will represent many religious faiths and will give life to the first Interreligious Match for Peace, a historic and engaging appointment, which will be based on spirituality, fraternity and sporting excellence, in the name of the dialogue among peoples for the peace in the world.”
Besides these superstars, former Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder Yossi Benayoun, an Israeli team star, along with former Italian superstar Robert Baggio, a renowned Buddhist could also play.
Zanetti, who retired from competitive football the previous season, could also play.
The match is being hosted by the Pupi Foundation, a Buenos Aires-based charity founded by Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti and the Pontifical Academy for Social Science.
"More than anything, the goal is to show the coexistence of different religions on the soccer field," a Pupi Foundation spokesman told Fox News Latino. "It’s not about making money, we want it to make it accessible to everyone."
The idea of the match, officially called Partita per la Pace (Match For Peace), was communicated by Pope Francis to Zanetti when they met in Rome back in 2013. The subsequent violence in the Gaza Strip makes the match that much more relevant.