FC Barcelona soccer sensation and UNICEF goodwill ambassador Lionel Messi posted a picture of a wounded Palestinian child from the Gaza Strip on his Facebook page Thursday, with an accompanying caption appealing to end all violence affecting children in the region.
“I am terribly saddened by the images coming from the conflict between Israel and Palestine, where violence has already claimed so many young lives and to injure countless children,” Messi, who has nearly 68,000,000 Facebook followers, wrote both in English and in Arabic.
“Children did not create this conflict, but they are paying the ultimate price. This cycle of senseless violence must stop. We must reflect on the consequences of military conflicts and children must be protected,” he concluded.
The post was quickly “liked” over 25,000 times, with many comments praising Messi for taking a stance on the conflict, and others urging him to remove the post.
Last year, Messi and the Barcelona squad took a break from their preseason training and flew to the Holy Land for a two-day “peace tour” with Israeli and Palestinian kids. The visit was originally to have included an exhibition match between Barcelona and a joint Israeli-Palestinian Authority team of professional players, but the game was canceled after the Palestinians objected to playing alongside Israelis.