Soccer Player Rejects Peace Match with Israeli Player
This is a photo for the match invitation which I turned down because of the Zionist state,” Aboutreika reportedly wrote on his Twitter account, referring to the participation of Israeli player Yossi Benayoun, EURO Sport reported on Sunday, August 17.
“Pardon us, we are raising new generations,” he added.
The match is being hosted by the Pontifical Academy for Social Science and the Pupi Foundation, a Buenos Aires-based charity founded by Inter Milan legend Javier “Pupi” Zanetti.
The charity match has received backing from Pope Francis and the Vatican.
The official website of the match organizers released the following statement with regards to the game: “On September 1st, 2014, in Rome, the best soccer players in the world, will represent many religious faiths and will give life to the first Interreligious Match for Peace, a historic and engaging appointment, which will be based on spirituality, fraternity and sporting excellence, in the name of the dialogue among peoples for the peace in the world.”
The match will include players of different religions such as Robert Baggio who is Buddhist, former Chelsea player Benayoun who is Jewish, former French international Zinedine Zidane who professes Islam.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi and former Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o are also expected to play.
Israel has been launching relentless airstrikes against Gaza since July 8 where more than 1,945 have been killed and thousands injured.
Health officials in Gaza said more than 1900 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed and nearly 10,000 injured since Israel launched its war on the besieged strip.
According to UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), about 80% of deaths in Gaza are civilians, including dozens of children and women.
The large scale of mass destruction in Gaza has left about 5,510 homes completely destroyed and about 31,000 partially damaged, forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes that were caught up in the Israeli air strikes.
Israel occupation forces started a ground invasion of besieged Gaza, home to two millions civilian, on Thursday, July 17.
Who is Aboutreika
Born in 1978 in the Egyptian city of Giza, Aboutreika started playing professionally for Egyptian club Tersana before joining El-Ahly club in January 2004.
He was the main reason for his team winning the national league and the Confederation of African Football's champions leagues two successive times.
He was crucial in helping El-Ahly get the bronze medal in FIFA Club World Cup 2006 in Japan.
He also helped the Egyptian national team to win the African Cup of Nations Egypt 2006, 2008 and 2010, which gave him the "Africa's Zinedine Zidane" nickname thanks to his technical brilliance and vision of the field.
Off the pitch, Aboutreika is a player known for his good manners. His personality is said to be as great as his silky skills.
His soccer star status grew in the Arab world and Africa as he turned his sights to humanitarian issues.
Aboutreika joined UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors the Brazilian player Ronaldo, and French player, Zinedine Zidane, in addition to 40 international soccer stars in 2005 for a ‘Match Against Poverty’ in Germany.
Aboutreika is a World Food Program Ambassador Against Hunger.
During Egypt's Africa Cup of Nations match against Sudan in 2008 he lifted his jersey after scoring his first goal to show a white T-shirt emblazoned with "Sympathize With Gaza" in solidarity with the Gazans in their distress under Israeli strikes in 2008 war on Gaza.
During the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations, Aboutreika revealed after one of his goals a T- shirt bearing the slogan "We Sacrifice Ourselves for You Prophet Muhammad" in response to the blasphemous Danish cartoons.