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Feb 22, 2013

Barcelona to play 'peace' friendly in Israel

Barcelona are to play a friendly in Israel against a team made up of Israeli and Palestinian players to promote peace in the troubled area.

Israel President Shimon Peres and Barca president Sandro Rosell announced the details of the match that will take place in July on Thursday.

Peres was delighted at attracting one of the world's biggest clubs to the country and is hopeful the fixture will help to ease tensions.

"[The game will be] a great celebration and a message for peace to us and our neighbours," Peres said at a press conference in Ramat Gan.

"I want to thank you for coming on a mission that is not only football, but that is hope," Peres told Rosell, adding that the Catalan club had already made history by giving "children all over the world hope and enthusiasm".

Rosell was also thrilled with the agreement and says he understands that a club of Barcelona's size have a responsibility to the rest of the world.

"Barcelona is more than a club," he said. "Barcelona is a club dedicated to improving society, which believes in the value of sports. There are universal values the club has always adopted. Football is a universal language that should be used to bring people together."

Rosell added: "Peace will be possible only if we build trust and faith between the two nations."

The game will be part of Barcelona's summer tour, which will see the side play several friendly matches outside of Europe, including a number of games in the Far East.

It has yet to be confirmed whether Barca will face a squad comprising players from the Israeli and Palestinian national teams, or whether the team will be made up of other players.

It is not the first time Barcelona, who are sponsored by UNICEF, have shown an interest in promoting peace in the region. In 2011 the Spanish club hosted six children from Israel and the Palestinian Authority for one of their home games.

Peres and Rosell stressed that the game, which is scheduled for July 31, was "for peace, not profit".

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