Retired soccer star Javier “Pupi” Zanetti, who was captain of the Argentinean national team and of Inter Milan in Italy, will soon don his cleats again to take part in an inter-religious friendly match for peace.
The Argentinean soccer player will join Roberto Baggio of Italy and Zinedine Zidane of France for the first “Inter-Religious Match for Peace.” Lionel Messi, Francesco Totti, Gianluigi Buffon and Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho may also take part, according to L’Osservatore Romano.
Zanetti, who is Catholic, was chosen to organize the symbolic game with collaboration from the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences.
Zanetti said the game, scheduled for Sept. 1 at Rome’s Olympic Stadium, was the “explicit wish of Pope Francis,” and that soccer players from various faiths would be invited to play in the name of peace and dialogue.
“How many values can we bear witness to simply by playing a game?” Zanetti stated.
He described the upcoming soccer match as “a symbolic gesture to help people understand that it is possible to build a world of peace, based on dialogue and respect for others.”
Those who “have ideas different from my own are not my enemies but an occasion for growth and enrichment,” he added.
The academy said it expects numerous international soccer stars to take part in the match, although no official rosters have been complied as of yet.