Could an Israel-Palestinian Soccer Match Bring Peace?

Wilfried Lemke says he has supporters ready to provide $1.5 million dollars to finance such a game.

A soccer match between Israelis and Palestinians could be one way to help end the long-running conflict in the Middle East, a United Nations adviser on sport and peace said Tuesday.

Wilfried Lemke, a German who serves as UN special adviser on sports for development and peace, is optimistic such a proposal could be realized. He said he has supporters ready to provide $1.5 million dollars or more to finance such a game in less than two days, provided politicians would agree to it.

The match could be held in Ramallah, in the Gaza Strip or in Tel Aviv, said Lemke, a former manager for the Werder Bremen football club in Germany for 18 years. The club was one of the best in Europe.

"Right now we are far away from realizing it," Lemke told reporters gathered at the German House in New York City for him to explain the particulars of his job advising UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on matters dealing with sports as a contribution to the advancement of development and peace.

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has lasted more than six decades.

Lemke said he has talked to Israeli and Palestinian officials, but admitted that the project is a tough one as neither side seems to be able to overcome politics for the sake of sports.

"I won't stop fighting for the idea," Lemke said.