Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho has backed a campaign for peace building through sport launched by the Peres Center for Peace.
The legendary football manager, who has coached Porto, Chelsea and Manchester United before taking over in north London, joined NBA ambassador Dikembe Mutombo at a virtual event this week promoting good relations between Israel’s different communities.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the annual ‘Mini Mondial’ event, which usually takes the form of a football tournament for Israeli Arab and Jewish children – known as the ‘Peace World Cup’ – was transformed into a virtual conference exploring the role of sport for peace building.
Mourinho recalled his visit to Israel in 2005, when he visited the Peres Center and met its founder, former Israeli President Shimon Peres. Spurs’ manager said, “The values of Shimon Peres are amazing – equality, sport, to bring people together, to make children feel love and togetherness. I am so, so proud to belong to it.”
“Sport is a very, very important social vehicle. It is a wonderful thing, this Peres Center program, for children of different nationalities, different religions and to bring them together and make them feel the equality, the love and the passion and the togetherness.”
Referring to the impact that leaders in sport can make, NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo said “I think because we have been admired by so many, we have the key to build a bridge to our society and to make a big difference. Sport is an international language.”
Tami Hay-Sagiv, Director, Education for Peace and Innovation Department, Peres Center for Peace and Innovation said: “In an era in which a new Middle East is being built, there is no doubt that sport has a role to play in spreading the message of unity across borders and sectors.”
The Mini Mondial event took place in partnership and with the support of the US Embassy in Israel, the Israel Football Association, the SOL Foundation, Mega Sport and the international sports body Beyond Sport.
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