UN soccer match pits ambassadors vs. journalists
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — It wasn’t quite the World Cup, but the world was definitely represented when U.N. ambassadors took to the soccer field against U.N. correspondents — with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon taking the ceremonial kickoff.
The match in a park on New York’s Upper East Side on Wednesday afternoon ended with about 10 minutes left to play when a torrential thunderstorm drenched the teams and the spectators. The ambassadors, with help from a few diplomats and U.N. officials, were winning, 3-2.
Tunisia’s Ambassador Mohamed Khaled Khiari scored their first goal, Peru’s Ambassador Gustavo Adolfo Meza-Cuadra the second and Italy’s U.N. spokesman Giovanni Davoli the third.
After Italy’s disappointing ouster in the first round of the World Cup in Brazil, Davoli said his winning goal “was a pretty nice thing.”
“Particularly at this time, Italy’s not doing that well in soccer, so at least a little celebration,” he said.
The secretary-general, who wore a white shirt with “SG 1” on the back, said he was pleased with his opening kick. He started playing soccer as a boy in South Korea and said he broke his hand twice playing the game, once during middle school and the second time two years ago when he was playing with the ambassadors.
This year, Ban watched from the sidelines. Always the diplomat, he said he didn’t belong to either team, so “I root for both teams.”
The ambassadors’ all-male roster represented more than two dozen countries, with a dozen other ambassadors watching.
The U.N. Correspondents Association’s team, representing more than a dozen countries, included three women and was cheered on by about 40 journalist supporters when Mustafa Keles of Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency scored the first goal and Will Pavia of the Times of London scored the second.
Bekim Jashari, the amateur referee, called it “a very good ... friendly game” and “really, really close.”
“It was more competition than some of the World Cup,” said Pamela Falk of CBS News, the president of the correspondents association.
Stephane Dujarric, the U.N. spokesman, had the final word.
“I think the journalists are very smart by letting their sources win,” he said.