An Israeli referee penalized a retired Brazilian soccer star during a friendly match in Israel Tuesday, for no other apparent reason than to take a selfie with him.
The Shalom Game in the northern city of Haifa was between former players from Brazil and Israel. The match, which Brazil won 4-2 and some 28,000 fans attended, was aimed at promoting coexistence.
During the second half of the game, Brazilian former attacking midfielder Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, known as Kaka, was dribbling down the field when referee Lilach Asulin blew the whistle and hit him with a yellow card.
As Kaka and other players looked on in surprise, Asulin preceded to take out her phone and snap a photo with the former Real Madrid and AC Milan star, who then cracked a smile and patted the referee on the back.
Apparently realizing what had transpired, a number of the Brazilian players came up to Asulin and laughed as they shook her hand.
Nothing to see here. Just a referee showing Kaka a yellow card before taking a selfie with him. ????pic.twitter.com/k3lUHJXd9N
— Football HQ (@FootbaII_HQ) October 29, 2019
Speaking to reporters, Kaka sounded a positive message about the purpose of Tuesday’s match.
“The goal is to spread the values of soccer. We know it can unite peoples and even neutralize situations of conflict,” Kaka said.
וזה הסלפי המדובר: השופטת לילך אסולין עם קאקא באמצע משחק השלום. אגב, קאקא לא עשה שום עבירה שדרשה כרטיס צהוב, אסולין עצרה את המשחק רק עבור הסלפי. ״כל המשחק חיכיתי לטיימינג״, סיפרה ל-ynet pic.twitter.com/MBKSLybYls
— Ran Boker רן בוקר (@ranboker) October 29, 2019
Among the other 13 Brazilian legends on the field were Ronaldinho, Bebeto, Roberto Carlos, Rivaldo, Cafu, Emerson, and Cesar Sampaio, who have all won World Cup titles and other accolades. Israeli stars included legends such as Arik Benado and Yaniv Katan.
“Bringing together such influential global figures of the past and present proves that Israel is part of the world map,” Brazilian-born Mauro Rozenszajn, CEO of the Israeli company organizing the event, MTR7, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
A photo with the Haifa skyline posted Monday by Ronaldinho, perhaps the biggest Brazilian star at the match, drew hundreds of thousands of likes from his nearly 70 million followers on Twitter and Instagram.
Shalom ???????? ???????? pic.twitter.com/UVn6Iys1ZA
— Ronaldinho Gaúcho (@10Ronaldinho) October 28, 2019
On the eve of the match, the Brazilian players visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem and children at the Rambam hospital in Haifa.
Brazil is the only five-time winner of Soccer World Cup titles and the only country that has qualified for every cup competition. Israel is home to some 15,000 Brazilians and an average of 700 members of Brazil’s Jewish community of about 120,000 move to Israel every year.