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Monday, August 5, 2013

Barca stars visit Western Wall, meet leaders

Neymar touches Western Wall stones (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
Neymar touches Western Wall stones (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)

Catalan football club begins second day of Israel trip with tour of holy site in Jerusalem. After being greeted by screaming fans, players put on skullcaps, place notes in wall and pray. In meeting with President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, they promise to help promote Mideast peace

After landing at Ben-Gurion Airport and visiting the Palestinian Authority on Saturday, the FC Barcelona soccer team began the second day of its trip to Israel with a visit to the Western Wall on Sunday morning.
As they walked from their bus to the Western Wall plaza, the celebrated Catalan players were greeted by hundreds of screaming fans, who arrived in Jerusalem from all over the country. The team’s star, Lionel Messi, drew most of the crowd’s attention.
The Barca players put on skullcaps and posed for a group photo at the holy site together with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
Brazilian star Neymar appeared confused and shocked at commotion, while FC Barcelona’s assistant manager Jordi Roura seemed particularly satisfied. Central defender Javier Mascherano surprised fans by getting off the bus and signing autographs.
Between the photographs and guided tour, the players found the time to place notes in the wall and even held a small prayer before getting back on their bus.
FC Barcelona received a warm welcome as the team arrived in Jerusalem at the start of its Middle East Peace Tour. All the big names made the journey including Fabregras, Lionel Messi and new signing Neymar.
FC Barcelona, one of the world's best-loved football teams, came to the Holy Land for a two day (3-4 August 2013) "Peace Tour." The team brought its star players, led by Lionel Messi, Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and the newly signed Neymar from Brazil.
Although Israel's hopes for an exhibition match between a mixed Israeli-Palestinian team and Barcelona were dashed, Barca's players brought a message of coexistence and compassion. 
In the Old City of Jerusalem, the footballers visited the Western Wall, placing notes with their prayers between the ancient stones in accordance to Jewish tradition.
One of the most moving events was a short game played by Barca and young children battling cancer, led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was followed by a practice session open to the public, with the participation of Jewish and Arab children. 12,000 children watched with great excitement the display of skills and training techniques. Israeli President Shimon Peres thanked FC Barcelona, calling the players "ambassadors of peace" and then proceeded to kick off the event, literally. 
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