Thu, Feb 17, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Stars shine in Spain's `game of hope'

FIFA FUND-RAISER Top professional players from around the world gathered in Barcelona for a benefit match in an effort to attract donations for tsunami victims

AP , BARCELONA, SPAIN

Ronaldinho XIs players and Shevchenko XIs before the start of the Soccer For Hope benefit match at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain on Tuesday, where more than 30 star players participated in a fund-raising event for victims of the tsunami on Dec. 26, 2004.

PHOTO: EPA

A collection of soccer talent not seen in at least 30 years braved near freezing temperatures and a polar wind Tuesday, displaying their skills for an exhibition all-star match in hopes of raising US$3 million (2.3 million euros) for victims of December's South Asian tsunamis.

Samuel Eto'o and Henry Camara scored twice each and Barcelona's own Ronaldinho also had a goal to lead his team of mostly non-European stars over Andriy Shevchenko's largely continental crew 6-3.

In a match dubbed "The Game of Hope," players like Eto'o and Deco dazzled a crowd of 35,000 at Camp Nou stadium and a television audience in 150 countries with heel flicks, dummy dribbles and goals.

"It's the first time in my 30 years with FIFA that there's been such an assembly of players of this stature," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said. "This is football, and it's football for the future."

FIFA hopes to raise about US$10 million for the victims of the Dec. 26 waves caused by an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia that killed at least 157,000. It hoped to raise one-third from Tuesday's match.

The proceeds were to go to the Tsunami Solidarity Fund set up by FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation.

"It's a joy to participate in this with so many great players and for such a great cause," Ronaldino said.

African player of the year for the second year running, Barcelona forward Eto'o put the non-Europeans ahead in the 13th minute with low shot from the edge of the area that sailed past Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Ronaldinho doubled the lead five minutes later, finishing off a playful maneuver by Deco and Japan's Hidetoshi Nakata of Fioretina.

Zinedine Zidane lobbed a stunning pass to spring Italy's Alessandro del Piero, who blasted a shot past AC Milan's Brazilian goalkeeper Dida in the 26th minute to keep the Europeans close.

But Eto'o shined brightest, stealing the ball moments from Kakhaber Kaladze before halftime ball, dribbling round a diving Casillas and depositing into a open net.

Gianfranco Zola and Honduras' David Suazo drew Shevchenko's team even by the 53rd minute, but Senegal's Henri Camara, of Southampton, scored twice in three minutes to restore the non-Europeans to the lead.

The African thundered in a shot the 60th minute, seconds before Ronaldinho left the game to wild applause, then scored again in the 63rd. South Korea's Cha Doo-ri powered a sixth in the 79th minute.

The match was preceded a by a minute of silence for the tsunami victims with all the starting players holding hands in the center circle.

Brazilian national team coach Carlos Alberto Parreira and FC Barcelona's Frank Rijkaard coached Ronaldinho's team while Italian squad chief Marcello Lippi and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger directed Shevchenko's crew.

Italy's Pierluigi Collina refereed the match.

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