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UEFA plans 1914 'truce match' centennial

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UEFA plans 1914 'truce match' centennial
UEFA President Michel Platini (right). Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
15:34 CEST+02:00
European football's Swiss-based governing body UEFA on Tuesday announced that it is planning a high-level ceremony to mark the 1914 Christmas truce match played by Allied and German soldiers in the First World War.

UEFA chief Michel Platini has invited the leaders of Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Ireland and Italy, plus the heads of the national football associations, to take part in the December 17th commemoration.

"This remembrance ceremony pays homage to the soldiers who, a century ago, expressed their humanity by coming together to play football, thereby opening an important chapter in the construction of European unity and serving as an example for today's young people to follow," the former France international said in a statement.

In 1914, soldiers on both sides downed weapons and held an impromptu football match between the trenches in Flanders, calling a brief halt to the mass slaughter to celebrate Christmas.

The impromptu football match came four months after the war began on the Western Front, and was condemned by both sides' military leaders as fraternization with the enemy.

There was no recorded repeat of the football matches as the war dragged on.

The 1914 game has become a symbol of ordinary soldiers' shared experience across the lines, and of the hope for peace, which did not come until 1918.

UEFA, headquartered in Nyon in the canton of Vaud, said that the match had been a "rare and extraordinary moment of peace and human fraternity, when football emerged as the only common language among men of different nationalities".

Part of the commemoration is to take place in Comines-Warneton, the Belgian town where the original match took place, and where a monument will be unveiled.

A remembrance service is also to be held in nearby Ypres, which was the epicentre of some of the bloodiest and most futile battles of the war.

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