December 19, 2014
Zidane, Maradona, Messi, Neymar to play for peace
Soccer icons will meet tomorrow at the Olympic Stadium in Rome for an exhibition game called by Pope Francis to promote peace and inter-religious understanding. The Pontiff wished the players a “good match” today during the Angelus prayer.
Set to start at 8:45 pm (local time), the friendly match will gather international stars Lionel Messi, Neymar and Samuel Eto’o, as well as retired legends such as Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane.
Around 50 players s from different cultural and religious backgraounds, including Buddhists, Christians – Catholic and Protestant – Jews, Hindus, Muslims and Shintos are expected at the match.
Retired Catholic Argentine captain Javier “Pupi” Zanetti is one of the key organizers of a match described as “an explicit wish of Pope Francis.” His fundation –Italy’s Fundazione PUPI-, along with the Scholas Occurrentes Initiatives are behind the game.
"I wish you a good game tomorrow at the Olympic Stadium," Francis said today in the Angelus Prayer at St. Peter Square. The Pope will donate an olive tree to be planted at the stadium as a symbol of peace.