Barcelona to play game with Israelis, Palestinians

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Associated Press

Posted on February 21, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 21 at 2:05 PM

JERUSALEM (AP) — Barcelona is trying to organize a soccer match against a combined team of Palestinians and Israelis to promote peace.

Club President Sandro Rosell began putting the plan in motion with Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday. He is to discuss the game with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Friday.

The venue and date weren't disclosed, but Israeli media reported the exhibition game will take place July 31, possibly at Ramat Gan Stadium near Tel Aviv.

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

Barcelona's fans in Gaza were angered last year when the team gave freed Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit a complimentary ticket. Schalit was held captive for five years by the militant Hamas, which rules Gaza.

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