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The Premiership champions have scored an invite to play in the country as part of this year’s special birthday celebrations.
The prospect of Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and co taking to the field in the Jewish state against the national side was raised when Israel’s new Ambassador Ron Prosor made the offer during a face-to face-meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson last Thursday.
And while Jewish News cannot confirm that excitement over the offer contributed to the team’s 6-0 drubbing of Newcastle days later, there is no doubt that such a visit would see excitement levels reaching fever pitch in a country which boasts many avid fans of the Premiership.
“Ferguson liked the idea,” a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy told the Jewish News following a last Thursday’s trip to Old Trafford, which came as the London-based Embassy took senior staff and its message to the city for the day in a landmark move. “There are many fanatical Manchester United supporters in Israel and it’s always cause for celebration when a globally-famous team comes to Israel.”
Apart from any goals scored on the pitch, Israelis will be hoping to score in the field of public opinion, with the spokesman insisting that visits by tourists and institutions alike raise awareness of a country’s merits and beauty as well as its struggles. “Whoever visits Israel, especially if they are famous, promotes tourism as shows it is safe to visit. We shouldn’t let the terrorists we shouldn’t let terrorists ruin flourishing industry of tourism,” he added. For former Israel and Spurs striker Ronny Rosenthal, meanwhile, the prospect of such a trip – which would see Manchester United’s first game in Israel after a 2002 Champions League clash was moved away from the country – was “fantastic”.
While in Manchester, Prosor presented Sir Alex with a book about Israeli’s contributions to the world, while he also met Manchester City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson and Sir Bobby Charlton. He told them that a parallel could be drawn between football, a team game, and the situation in the Middle East
“All the inhabitants of the Middle East should work together and this is how we can score a goal for peace.”
The Embassy’s trip to the city, a pilot for further day visits to the regions, saw the Ambassador meeting the Lord Mayor and members of the Jewish community, while Deputy Ambassador made visited Salford University and consular service were made available to the public.
Manchester is pilot “weve chosen mancester as first trip outside the London bubble, chosen because of importance of city and the jewish community is second largest in Britain” duplicate in other cities during this year
Didn’t rule out invitations to other cities'Oy Vey Wayne Rooney!' by Justin Cohen