Spanish football league heavyweight Barcelona did not invite Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to its match against Real Madrid, but it accepted a request by him to watch the game during his visit to Barcelona, the club said in a statement on its website on Thursday. The club said that it had contributed to the peace process between Israel and Palestine.
“After multiple reports citing that the Israeli citizen Gilad Shalit will be at the Camp Nou for the Clásico against Real Madrid, the Club wishes to express its desire to contribute to the ongoing peace process in the Middle East,” the statement said.
“The Club did not invite Mr. Shalit to the game, but accepted a request to watch a match during his visit to Barcelona.”
“In the same manner as Mr. Shalit’s request was accepted, the Club has also accepted the Palestinian embassy’s request to extend three invitations to three Palestinian delegates. Musa Amer Odeh, Palestinian Authority ambassador; Jibril Rajoub, President of the Palestinian Football Union, and the Palestinian footballer Mahmoud al-Sarsak will also watch the Clásico at the Camp Nou,” the statement said.
The statement underlined that Barcelona has always wanted to promote peace and harmony in the Middle East.
“On July 21 of 2011, Mahmuod Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, was officially hosted at Club facilities during his visit to Barcelona. On that occasion, Mr. Abbas thanked ‘FC Barcelona for its hospitality,’ and noted that ‘Barça is a Club that represents a civilization and a group of people with a great set of values.’”
The statement mentioned that a total of 31 children; 16 Palestinians and 15 Israelis, were trained for the first time together with Barcelona’s La Masia in October 2011. “The goal of the exercise was to cultivate an athletic relationship between the two groups,” it said.