The Italian capital of Rome was the host city for the historic “Match for Peace” on Monday September 1st, 2014.
The initiative, called for by Pope Francis to promote diplomatic solution to crisis in Gaza, was organized by the Vatican’s “Scholas Occurentes” initiative, and former Argentine and Inter Milan player Javier Zanetti’s PUPI Foundation.
“Behind this game there is a very strong message that the Pope wants to send for peace in the world, a value we all need in these difficult times,” said Zanetti.
Prior to the game, the Pope gave his blessings to the players, featuring current and past stars from numerous countries and different religions, and presented them with the olive branch of peace.
Among the participants were legends Diego Maradona (Argentina), Gabriel Batistuta (Argentina), Carlos Valderrama (Colombia), Ivan Zamorano (Chile), Roberto Baggio (Italy), Paolo Maldini (Italy), Filippo Inzaghi (Italy) and Andriy Shevchenko (Italy).
Active players who were invited include Lionel Messi (Argentina), Ronaldinho (Brazil), Neymar (Brazil), Gary Medel (Chile), Arturo Vidal (Chile), Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Francesco Totti (Italy), Mesut Özil (Germany) and Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon).
The game also featured players like Emre Belozoglu (Turkey), Yossi Benayoun (Israel), and Antonio Mohamed (Argentina). Arsenal Coach Arsene Wenger lead the “Scholas” side, while the “PUPI” squad was coached by Argentina’s new trainer, Gerardo Martino.
It is to be noted that the game ended on a score of 6-3 in favour of the PUPI side with a hat-trick from Inter Milan Player Mauro Icardi for the PUPI, and a nostalgic piece of art when Maradona set Roberto Baggio to score for the Scholas.