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Soccer Tournament To Celebrate U.N.

August 20, 1999

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ To celebrate the U.N. International Day of Peace, several countries have joined voluntary groups and the city of New York to organize a mammoth soccer tournament on Sept. 19.

The tournament at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, once the home of the United Nations, will feature 64 teams from the New York metropolitan area representing countries, ethnic groups and soccer lovers from around the globe.

``Essentially this is a festival,″ said Howard Rubenstein of the Eastern New York Soccer Association, ``We’re not concerned about winners and losers. Everyone is a winner.″

New York City sports commissioner Ken Podziba said during a news conference Thursday that the tournament was ``one of the greatest ways to unify people from different backgrounds and political ideals.″

``It makes us aware of how similar we all really are. And we’re very proud that this event will be held in New York City _ the most international city in the world, and the home of the United Nations,″ he said.

Podziba read a letter from New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani who said the tournament underscored ``how peace and unity can be achieved through sports.″

``Soccer is truly an ethnically diverse sport that is played and enjoyed worldwide,″ the mayor said.

Grenada’s U.N. Ambassador, Lamuel Stanislaus, echoed the mayor, saying sport provides one of the best opportunities ``to attain the universal goal of brotherhood.″

At the United Nations, people says peace is equivalent to economic development, Stanislaus said, but he proposed a new saying _ ``that peace is equivalent to sports.″

Costa Rica’s deputy U.N. Ambassador, Emilia Castro de Barish, said the tournament would promote the U.N. International Day of Peace which was proposed by her country in 1981.

It is observed on the opening day of the General Assembly debate, which this year is Sept. 20.

The soccer competition is being called the September Debate Friendship Cup in honor of the General Assembly debate, which is expected to bring dozens of world leaders to the United Nations.

Harvey Dupiton, of the coalition of voluntary groups helping to organize the tournament, said the variety of teams will show the leaders of the General Assembly that ``people out there in the streets are communicating.″

While organizers say they expect teams from Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States to participate, they stress that participation is open to everyone _ and also hope to have some women’s soccer teams on the field.

The tournament is free, Rubinstein said. ``We would love to see thousands of people coming, watching these games on the various fields. It will be a great festive occasion.″

___

Organizers said anyone wanting to participate should call 212-252-4261 for English speakers and 212-726-3155 for Spanish speakers.

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