Common goal

Jaffa Gate to host Jewish-Arab penalty shootout during World Cup

Organizers plan to screen soccer matches on Jerusalem Old City walls, aim to get a world-class goalkeeper to participate in coexistence event

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

A computerized simulation of a planned soccer penalty shootout at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (Courtesy: Kulna)
A computerized simulation of a planned soccer penalty shootout at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (Courtesy: Kulna)

This summer, while many millions worldwide will be watching the FIFA World Cup in Russia, Jews and Arabs will come together in Jerusalem’s Old City for a special event that will see the famous Jaffa Gate transformed into a soccer goalpost, with organizers aiming to get a world-class goalkeeper to participate.

Kulna, an NGO which has been holding Jewish-Arab backgammon tournaments in Israel’s capital for the last year, said Wednesday it was trying to build on that success to advance coexistence between the city’s embattled populations.

World Cup matches are to be screened on the Old City walls in July, with Jews and Arabs invited to watch together.

But the centerpiece of the initiative will be a penalty shootout in which members of local Jewish and Arab youth soccer teams will try to kick the ball into Jaffa Gate, one of the main entrances to the Old City.

Shooting for the stars

The organization is trying to bring an internationally renowned goalkeeper to headline the event, and has focused on five famous players, both active and retired: Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, Spain’s Iker Casillas, Germany’s Oliver Kahn, Denmark’s Peter Schmeichel and France’s Fabian Barthez.

While the NGO said it is in talks with some of the “legendary” goalies, none have yet announced they will attend the event. Kulna has launched a website for the project, which it has named “Goals and Gates 2018,” and called on the public to help the organization get the goalies’ attention.

Alongside other attempts to reach the goalies, the Jewish-Arab organization plans to rally after the Passover festival next to the Jerusalem consulates of their respective countries.

Goals and Gates 2018

This summer, during the Soccer World Cup, Jerusalem will be hosting its own legendary event: a penalty-kick shootout for Jewish and Arab youths, at Jaffa Gate, at the entrance to the Old City. You heard right- we're transforming one of the storied Gates to the Old City into a soccer goal ???? = ⚽ + ???? = ???? !!!To make our dream a reality, WE NEED YOUR HELP TO GET THE ATTENTION of at least one LEGENDARY Goalkeepers, and persuade them to join us in Jerusalem​, to stand at the goal: Fabien Barthez? Gianluigi Buffon? Iker Casillas? Oliver Kahn? Peter Schmeichel? Please help us spread the word!To learn more about Goals and Gates and how you can help >>

Posted by ‎כולנא ירושלים كلنا مقدسين Kulna Jerusalem‎ on Sunday, March 25, 2018

The organizers said the event will be held even if they fail to get a world-class player to participate.

The shootout will be the culmination of a larger tournament involving Jewish and Arab youth teams from the Jerusalem area. A penalty tournament will be held beforehand, possibly in a field in the Old City’s Armenian Quarter. The winners of that contest will compete in the final shootout at Jaffa Gate.

“Our goal is to take an event that unites the world and has become a symbol of fraternity between nations, the soccer World Cup, and use it to create bonds between Jewish and Arab youth in Israel,” Dror Amedi of Kulna told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.

“Jaffa Gate, which usually gives connotations of war and violence, will be transformed into a soccer goal, a symbol of global comradeship,” Amedi said.

Most Popular
read more: