POSTED: October 27th 2008

Blatter eyes sporting ideal

Summit speakers (from left): Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Jibrill Rajub, Edwin Moses, Jason McCartney, Alex Gilady, Sepp Blatter and Ramon Calderon / Image: Laureus
Summit speakers (from left): Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Jibrill Rajub, Edwin Moses, Jason McCartney, Alex Gilady, Sepp Blatter and Ramon Calderon / Image: Laureus

Special Correspondent / Sports Features Communications

TEL-AVIV: The importance of keeping sport and politics apart was stressed by FIFA president Sepp Blatter at a sports summit to mark the 10th anniversary of the Shimon Peres Center for Peace.

Blatter outlined the strength of worldwide football through its 280m direct and indirect participants and more than one billion stakeholders.

Having just watched Palestine play a historic first match on home soil against Jordan, he insisted that football worldwide had a role to play in ensuring sport remained independent of politics.

Blatter was joined in a ‘round table’ on the power of sport by former athletes Edwin Moses and Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson as well Real Madrid president Ramón Calderón, IOC member Alex Gilady, former Australian rules footballer Jason McCartney and the American boxing promoter Don King.

The previous day Moses and Grey-Thompson, members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, had visited a Laureus-supported basketball project for refugees and underprivileged Palestinian children.

The sports summit was opened, at the King David Hall in Tel Aviv, by a message from former Israeli Prime Minister Peres, the Center’s founder, describing how sport had helped bring communities together in the divided region.

The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation was honoured with a special Peace Award, received by director Ned Wills, in recognition of its commitment and support for peace building in the region.

Double celebration time

Academy chairman Moses said: “The Peres Center is 10 years old this year. Next year Laureus too will be 10 years old. I believe both organisations have contributed to the cause of peace and reconciliation in countries and regions where communities are divided.

"Our co-operation has been rewarding and successful and the winners are the young people of the area to whom we can offer hope for the future."

Gilady reminded the panel that more than 2000 years ago, at the dawn of the Olympics, safe travel to and from the Games was a pre-requisite. He added: “This relates to communities both here in Israel and across the world where sport can be used to unite communities and stop wars. Sport has a very important role to play in the political arena."

Grey-Thompson, the British Paralympic legend, pointed out how, in Beijing, the staging of the Paralympics had influenced governmental issues such as the implementation of wheelchair access for the subway system.

She added: “We all have parents and many of us are parents. As a nine-year-old disabled child, I was encouraged to participate and given support by my parents and family. This is so important.

"We should all be considering how the lessons sport has to teach young people might give them, as future leaders, the tools they need to address tomorrow's challenges."

Picture (above right): Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Edwin Moses with Palestinian refugees basketball players in the West Bank / Image: Laureus

Keywords · FIFA president · Sepp Blatter · Shimon Peres Center for Peace · Edwin Moses · Tanni Grey-Thompson · Real Madrid president Ramón Calderón · IOC member Alex Gilady · Jason McCartney · Don King · Laureus World Sports Academy

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