Brazil’s Ronaldo visited
Israel and the West Bank on Monday to promote youth soccer projects
aimed at fostering peace between Israeli and Palestinian children.
Visiting the region in his capacity as United Nations ambassador against
poverty, the Real Madrid striker inaugurated a sports centre for
underprivileged youth in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
“I hope my visit here ... (will encourage) ... other famous people to
visit Palestine and to enjoy this beautiful country,” Ronaldo said.
The Brazilian was mobbed by scores of excited Palestinian children
waving Brazilian flags and chanting his name. He met Palestinian Prime
Minister Ahmed Qorie and signed footballs for fans.
Ronaldo said it would be an honour for Real Madrid to visit the West
Bank to play against the Palestinian national team. “There is no problem
for them to come and play a friendly game here,” he told the crowd.
Ronaldo’s entourage was then whisked away amid tight security to the
Israeli town of Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, where he was joined by
vice-premier Shimon Peres.
The two men posed for photographs with young Israeli and Palestinian
children who participate in a soccer project run by Peres’ peace
“I am so proud to be a UN ambassador and I am so happy to see that even
here, in Ramallah and Herzliya, I can contribute towards peace,” Ronaldo
Peres said the project was an example of how sport contributed towards
reconciliation between warring peoples.