ROME - First there was Pope Francis' message: "I'm glad to see you all here together for this symbolic game. It's a match that places the emphasis on the teams and spectators uniting for what everyone wants: peace." Then there was the match - a celebration whose aim was to send out a message to the world. One we all share, full of hope: the universal value of peace.
The Stadio Olimpico was packed for the Interreligious Match for Peace – a personal idea of Pope Francis' organised in conjunction with Scholas Occurrentes and the PUPI Foundation. It was a unique, touching event both for those in the stands and the world-class stars on the pitch.
Inter vice president Javier Zanetti was there of course, along with Baggio, Maradona, Icardi, Campagnaro, Carrizo, Medel, Simeone, Buffon, Zamorano, Orlandoni, Eto'o, Del Piero and many others. Footballers from different religions (Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Evangelism, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Shinto) all coming together to unite people.
The proceeds from the match are to be donated entirely to the 'Un'Alternativa di Vita' project, which will offer thousands of kids in Buenos Aires concrete, structured aid over time and help to develop the Rete delle Scuole per l'Incontro.
For the record books it finished 6-3 to the PUPI Foundation, with the pick of the bunch a cool finish from Baggio after Maradona's defence-splitting pass, while Mauro Icardi scored a second-half hat-trick. But the real winner of this game was peace.