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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 June, 2004, 01:07 GMT 02:07 UK
Brazil to play Haitians for peace
Brazilian peacekeepers in Haiti
Brazil is bringing its own brand of peacekeeping to Haiti
The Brazilian national football team is to play a friendly match in Haiti in August at which tickets will be offered in exchange for guns.

Brazil is leading the UN force keeping the peace in Latin America's poorest state since a civil conflict there in February left some 200 people dead.

Superstars like Ronaldo may be playing and Brazil's President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, may also be in town.

Brazilian troops who deployed this month handed out 1,000 free footballs.

Ronaldo's ready to go
Agnelo Queiroz
Brazilian Sports Minister

The idea for a match to "alleviate tensions" was suggested by Haitian Prime Minister Gerard Latortue in an interview in May with Brazilian journalists.

"A few Brazilian soccer stars could do more to disarm warring militias than thousands of peacekeeping troops," he was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Shirt demand

Brazil's Sports Minister Agnelo Queiroz said a fixture was being arranged provisionally for 18 August.

Ronaldo celebrates win against China at 2002 World Cup
The match could give Haiti a rare burst of positive publicity
"Ronaldo's ready to go," he said. "They [Brazil's top players] want to help in Haiti's peace process."

The president, popularly known as Lula, hoped to find time to attend the match, the minister added.

Football is hugely popular in Haiti but the national stadium is in poor repair and security concerns have led to a ban on official matches there by the international football federation Fifa.

Haitian opposition groups brought down the government of elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide during February's violent unrest.

Some 1,200 Brazilian troops began deploying in Haiti this month to replace US peacekeepers.

One of their first acts was to hand out the free balls to Haitian children.

Brazil's sports minister said that about 5,000 Brazil shirts were being sent to Haiti ahead of the match, owing to popular demand. The venue for the game has yet to be chosen.


SEE ALSO:
Challenges tower over Haiti force
02 Jun 04  |  Americas
UN approves new Haiti peace force
30 Apr 04  |  Americas
Country profile: Haiti
03 Mar 04  |  Country profiles


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