Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Palestinians reject 'peace match'

Barcelona's Lionel Messi (left) celebrates but he will not be playing against a joint Israeli-Palestinian team

Palestinians have decided not to team up with Israelis in a football match against Barcelona designed to promote peace.

Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub met Barcelona President Sandro Rosell today and says there are "lots of obstacles."

Mr Rajoub calls it "a good idea, a dream to become true if the occupation ends". Mr Rosell made the proposal yesterday with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Mr Rosell says Barcelona aims "to strengthen the bridges of peace and dialogue" between Israelis and Palestinians. Mr Peres says football "brings down barriers."

Gaza fans were angered in 2012 when Barcelona gave freed Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit a ticket. Schalit was held captive for five years by Hamas, which rules Gaza.

Palestinian leaders have attended Barcelona games in Spain.

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