President Peres with Lionel Messi
Soccer team FC Barcelona visited Israel on Sunday as part of their two-day peace tour to the region. President Peres welcomed the team at his Jerusalem residence at an event attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well, after the President personally invited the team to Israel.
Dozens of Israeli children attended a soccer clinic held by FC Barcelona on Sunday night at Bloomfield Stadium in Jaffa, with over 12,000 cheering fans in attendance. President Peres kicked a ball to Lionel Messi, one of FC Barcelona’s superstars, to begin the event. The event was the culmination of Barca’s 2013 Peace Tour to the region.
President Peres lauded Barca for their contributions to world peace: “It is a contribution to peace, as you have rightly called it, a 'Peace Tour.' You came just on time. Our Prime Minister and his government began a 'tour of peace' between us and the Palestinians, which is an important and timely decision.” He continued, “I would like to add that we pray for the success of the current peace talks between us and the Palestinians, their success is crucial for our future. Your visit here is an added contribution to that prayer of peace through the language of football.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke immediately after President Peres, and said: "Here is my great hope: My hope is to see good football games, to have peace and security and to have one percent of your fan base, they have 300 billion, 1 percent visit this great site and this great country. That would help our economy and it would help peace as well."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with FC Barcelona