[Saturday Evening August 3, 2013] Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, welcomed at his Presidential Headquarters in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, the players and coach of Barcelona soccer team, who are conducting their first visit to occupied Palestine.“This is your first visit to Palestine, but you are always in Palestine, in our homes, our people love you and watch your games”, Abbas said, “You visited the Church of Nativity, and I hope you enjoyed your time in the land of prophets, especially Jesus Christ”.
“We know you carry another message besides sports, you carry a message of peace”, the President said, “We are holding direct peace talks, and we know you also want peace and stability”.
Abbas also told the Barcelona athletes that next time they visit Palestine; they will visit it to celebrate comprehensive peace.
Head of Barcelona club president, Sandro Rossell, stated that the team’s visit to Bethlehem is very important, as the city is the birthplace of Jesus Christ, and represents peace on earth.
Rossell thanked the Palestinian People, and President Abbas, for the warm welcome and added that the team is honored by this visit, and honored by being personally welcomed by President Abbas.
“The timing of this visit is essential, it comes with the beginning of direct peace talks in Washington”, he said, “We hope peace will be achieved, we wish all the children we saw in Bethlehem, and everywhere, will live in peace, because they have hope for the future, if by being in the country Barcelona can help achieve peace, we will always be there”.
It is worth mentioning that various officials, religious leaders, figures representing local NGOs, Palestinian Sports Minister, Jibreel Rajoub, and Palestinian Arab Idol, Mohammad Assaf, also welcome Barca team in Bethlehem.
Rajoub, also the head of the Palestinian Soccer Union, and Rossel, stated that this visit is historical and very important to the Palestinian people, adding that this step is a positive step towards comprehensive peace in the region.
During a press conference with Rossel, Rajoub said that Barca is conducting a “tour of peace, a positive step towards peace in the region”, and added that “one day, all teams, all nations in the region, will play together once the Palestinian State has been established.
Barcelona team also visited the new stadium in the town of Doura, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and was welcomed by more than 25.0000 Palestinian fans, many of them wearing Barcelona shirts.
Members of the team also held an hour-long clinic with more than 40 young Palestinian girls and boys, Yahoo Sports has reported.