Israeli-Palestinian team lose to Bayern Munich
25 July 2005, MUNICH - Using sport to promote a peace message, a mixed Israeli and Palestinian football team tackled an under-17 side from Germany's top Bundesliga club, Bayern Munich, in Munich's biggest stadium on Monday.
25 July 2005
MUNICH - Using sport to promote a peace message, a mixed Israeli and Palestinian football team tackled an under-17 side from Germany's top Bundesliga club, Bayern Munich, in Munich's biggest stadium on Monday.
While the blue-jerseyed visitors lost 4-0, there was praise for their pluck in facing the reigning German champions' up-and-coming generation. After the match, a huge sheet of cloth saying "Peace" in Arabic, Hebrew, English and German was spread over the pitch.
The 'peace team' of Arab and Jewish players was created to give young people in Israel and the Palestinian areas a common set of heroes. They are also booked to play at next year's street football festival in Berlin.
Security was tight at Munich's new Allianz stadium, where Israeli Deputy Premier Shimon Peres was in the crowd for the 'Peace Match'. His Peres Center for Peace arranged the five-day trip to Germany by the squad of young Jewish and Arab footballers.
Some 40,000 schoolchildren from around Bavaria, who were given a day off classes in the last week before their school holidays to attend the game, filled much of the 60,000-seat stadium.
City traffic was snarled for much of the day by roadblocks, with police giving priority to 800 buses transporting the school pupils.
Other pupils watched a live public telecast of the match from their classrooms on the orders of Bavarian education authorities.
While Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge admitted the extra security and searches had been annoying, Israeli Ambassador to Germany Shimon Stein said it was something that had to be put up with. "You have to let life go on as normally as possible," he added.
Last week, 35 schools cancelled bookings to the match after parents voiced concern about possible terrorist attacks.
Peres, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 jointly with the late Itzhak Rabin and the late Yasser Arafat, created his centre for peace two years later to break down prejudices that obstruct peace.
The Israeli earlier told Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber sport was the best training in peace for young people.
The Bavarian and German governments helped fund the match, which also marked 40 years of German-Israeli diplomatic relations.
Proceeds from ticket sales will fund the outing by the peace team to the July 1-8, 2006 street football event that is to accompany next year's World Cup in Germany.
Subject: German news