JERUSALEM (AP) – Barcelona is trying to organize a soccer match against a combined team of Palestinians and Israelis to promote peace.
Club President Sandro Rosell began putting the plan in motion with Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday. He is to discuss the game with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Friday.
The venue and date weren't disclosed, but Israeli media reported the exhibition game will take place July 31, possibly at Ramat Gan Stadium near Tel Aviv.
Rosell says Barcelona aims ''to strengthen the bridges of peace and dialogue'' between Israelis and Palestinians. Peres says soccer ''brings down barriers.''
Barcelona's fans in Gaza were angered last year when the team gave freed Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit a complimentary ticket. Schalit was held captive for five years by the militant Hamas, which rules Gaza.
In the meantime, Barcelona's beleaguered stars are determined to bounce back after suffering a 2-0 defeat at AC Milan in Wednesday's Champions League clash.
It was an unusual spluttering display from the runaway leaders in La Liga, thanks to a disciplined and energetic showing from the Italians at the San Siro.
The Spanish newspaper Marca, based in Madrid, said the Spanish team had "played their worst game in five years" under the headline "this is not Barca", while even the Barcelona sports daily Sport claimed "worst Barca."