More than 50 of the world’s top players from 27 countries are gathering in Barcelona for tonight’s star-studded benefit match to raise funds for victims of the Asian tsunami.
The Football for Hope match will be played in front of 98,000 at the Nou Camp between a world XI, captained by World Player of the Year Ronaldinho, and a European XI, captained by European Player of the Year Andrii Shevchenko.
Three England players, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham and Frank Lampard will represent the European squad, with Gerrard in particular looking forward to the game.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said the Liverpool midfielder. “There will be some great players on show. I don’t think it is going to be like a Premiership game or an important international match but I think it will be competitive.”
Arsenal star Thierry Henry is also in the European squad – which will be jointly coached by his Arsenal manager Arsene wenger and Italian coach Marcello Lippi – along with former Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola, Bayern Munich midfielder Michael Ballack, Roma forward Francesco totti aand Real Madrid galacticos Zinedine Zidane and Raul.
Three Premiership based players have been picked for the world squad – which will be coached by Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira and Barcelona boss frank Rijkaard – Manchester United left-back Gabriel Heinze, Bolton’s Radhi Jaidi and Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.
All proceeds from the match will be donated to the Fifa/Asian Football Confederation Tsunami Solidarity Fund after Barcelona [rsident Joan Laporta offered the use of the stadium for free.
“I was horrified when I saw the disaster on the television,” Laporta said. “The scale of it was so huge that it called upon each and every one of us to come together to help in any way we can.
“Football basically unites people against injustice, unfairness, and racism.
“Football is a union of players of all colours and creeds and brings people together at the same time, so it is very important to send out a positive message.”
Ronaldinho’s World XI:
Dida (Bra/Milan), Idriss Kameni (Cam/Espanyol), Cafu (Bra/Milan), Ivan Cordoba (Col/Inter), Gabriel Heinze (Arg/Man Utd), Radhi Jaidi (Tun/Bolton), Samuel Kuffour (Gha/Bayern Munich), Rafael Marquez (Mex/Barcelona), Lucas Radebe (SA/Leeds), Javier Zanetti (Arg/Inter), Paolo Montero (Uru/Juventus), Carlos Alberto Gamarra (Par/Inter), Rigobert Song (Cam/Galatasaray), Raymond Kalla (Cam/Bochum), Cha Doo-Ri (Kor/Eintracht Frankfurt), Didier Drogba (IVC/Chelsea), Samuel Eto’o (Cam/Barcelona), Kaka (Bra/AC Milan), Mehdi Mahdavikia (Irn/Hamburg), Park Ji-Sung (Kor/PSV Eindhoven), Ronaldinho (Bra/Barcelona), David Suazo (Hun/Cagliari), Obafemi Martins (Nig/Inter), Esteban Cambiasso (Arg/Inter)
Coaches: Carlos Alberto Parreira (Bra), Frank Rijkaard (Ned)
Shevchenko’s European XI:
Iker Casillas (Spa/Real Madrid), Francesco Toldo (Ita/Inter), Kakhaber Kaladze (Geo/Milan), Vincent Kompany (Bel/Anderlecht), Paolo Maldini (Ita/Milan), Carles Puyol (Spa/Barcelona), Lilian Thuram (Fra/Juventus), Christoph Metzelder (Ger/Borussia Dortmund), Alessandro Nesta (Ita/Milan), Michael Ballack (Ger/Bayern Munich), David Beckham (Eng/Real Madrid), Deco (Por/Barcelona), Sebastian Deisler (Ger/Bayern Munich), Alessandro Del Piero (Ita/Juventus), Steven Gerrard (Eng/Liverpool), Ludovic Giuly (Fra/Barcelona), Thierry Henry (Fra/Arsenal), Frank Lampard (Eng/Chelsea), Raul (Spa/Real Madrid), Andriy Shevchenko (Ukr/Milan), Johann Vogel (Swi/PSV Eindhoven), Zinedine Zidane (Fra/Real Madrid), Christian Vieri (Ita/Milan), Gianfranco Zola (Ita/Cagliari), Francesco Totti (Ita/Roma), Vincenzo Montella (Ita/Roma), Jari Litmanen (Fin/Hansa Rostock).
Coaches: Marcello Lippi (Ita), Arsene Wenger (Fra)
Referee: Pierluigi Collina