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Barcelona to play friendly with Israelis, Palestinians

Photo: Manu Fernandez/AP

Lionel Messi (center) and Barcelona lost 2-0 to AC Milan in their Champions League first leg Wednesday.

Barcelona is trying to organize a match against a combined team of Palestinians and Israelis to promote peace.

Club president Sandro Rosell launched the initiative with Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday, and is set to discuss the event with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Friday.

The venue and date weren't disclosed, but Israeli media reported the friendly will take place on 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 football "brings down barriers.''

Barcelona's fans in Gaza were outraged 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.

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