Javier Zanetti at presentation of Match For Peace

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VATICAN CITY – The Match For Peace was officially unveiled today for the charity match that will take place on Monday 1 September 2014 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome (to begin at 20:45). 

The event will feature an extensive selection of some of the world’s best footballers from both past and present, representing various cultures and religions: Buddhist, Christian (Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical), Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Shinto. It’s a unique occasion to show what sport, and football specifically, can do to spread a message of brotherhood and sharing to unite all people in the name of peace.

Having these great players on the pitch will boost an event that will symbolically unite the globe in the name of the most authentic sporting spirit, while at the same time devoting a moment of reflection on the importance of peace in the world. Live television, internet and radio broadcasts from the Stadio Olimpico in Rome will connect with media outlets around the world, and proceeds from the initiative –personally inspired by Pope Francis and organised by Scholas Occurrentes and the PUPI Foundation – will be entirely donated to the funding of the Un’Alternativa di Vita project, which offers youngsters in Buenos Aires solid, structured and continuous support, and will promote the development of the Rete delle Scuole per l’Incontro. 

THE PARTICIPANTS Gerardo “Tata” Martino, new coach of the Argentine national team, and Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger, will have the task of choosing the two sides from a squad of over 50 players: Andrea Ranocchia, Andrea Pirlo, Colombian midfielder Fredy Guarìn, Spaniards Mikel Arteta and Andrés Palop Cervera, Andrey Shevchenko, Argentine ex-player and current coach Antonio Mohamed, Brazilian Marcos Antonio Senna Da Silva, Chilean Arturo Vidal, Carlos Valderrama, Israelis Yossi Benayoun, Dudu Aouate and Tomer Hemed, Damiano Tommasi, David Trezeguet, Ethiopia captain Degu Debebe Gebreyes, Diego Lugano, Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone, Icelandic Emil Hallfreosson, Argentines Mauro Icardi, Ricky Alvarez, goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo, Esteban Cambiasso, Fernando Tissone, Ezequiel Schelotto, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Juan Iturbe, Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano, Maxi Rodríguez, Cristian Ledesma. Also featuring will be: Yuto Nagatomo, Ivan Zamorano, Ivan Cordoba, Roberto Baggio, Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Muslera, Filippo Inzaghi, Gabriel Heinze, Jose Chamot, Luca Toni, Lucas Podolski, Mesust Ozil, Nicola Legrottaglie, Radja Nainggolan, Ronaldinho, Stefano Mauri, Sulley Muntari and Belozoglu Emre.

The teams carry the names of the two non-profit organisations, PUPI and SCHOLAS, and will be led by two legendary players: Javier Zanetti and Gianluigi Buffon, both captains of their respective national teams. 

And the Inter vice president, who took part in many press conferences during his playing career, today could not hide his emotion for his role of organiser in such a special event: “I consider it one of the most important of my life. When I had the chance to meet with Pope Francis we decided to organise this friendly because we consider world peace to be something urgent. Being a part of this organisation is an honour for me, a source of pride. To involve so many of my colleagues and friends, who will be together on 1 September for this great match, could turn out to be something very important and a starting point for the entire world. Let’s keep in mind that the most important thing is not the match itself, but the Pope’s message, which is one of world peace.”

During half-time, the stadium will be treated to a performance from Argentine singer and actress Tini Stoessel (who features on the TV programme ‘Violetta’) and Italian singer Filippo Neviani (Nek), who will perform four songs.

The event is sponsored by FIFA, CONI, FIGC, Lega Serie A, Roma Capitale, CSI (Centro Sportivo Italiano), Segretariato Sociale RAI, Connect4Climate, FAO. The official slogan will be “Pace per vincere la fame” [Peace to beat hunger], and the match will be broadcast on live television in Italy on Rai 1 and radio on RAI Radio Uno. Radio Italia will oversee the event’s musical entertainment.

The PUPI Foundation and Scholas Occurrentes are supported by valuable contributions from select international partners: top partners Fiat and Pirelli; gold partners Fundación Grupo London Supply Argentina, Boscolo Hotels and 3M; silver partner Unicredit.   

Scholas Occurrentes is a global network of schools and educational networks led by Pope Francis through the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Their mission is to link schools and educational networks around the world by means of different types of pedagogical, sports and artistic proposals aimed at improving education and achieving inclusion of communities with fewer resources through an active commitment of all social stakeholders.

The PUPI Foundation, established over 10 years ago by Paula and Javier Zanetti, aims at achieving a stronger and more ethical society. The mission is to create a system that promotes growth and sustainable development in some of the most disadvantaged areas of society for children and adolescents, their families and their communities. 

Photos by Paolo Bruno / Getty Images