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Commemoration of 1914 Christmas truce

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UEFA is planning to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1914 Christmas truce, when soldiers in the First World War spontaneously played football in the Flanders countryside.

Football created a moment of peace and human fraternity in 1914
Football created a moment of peace and human fraternity in 1914 ©Public domain

One hundred years ago this Christmas, soldiers from the two alliances fighting the First World War came out of trenches and shell holes in the cold and muddy countryside of Flanders to experience a spontaneous informal truce.

They exchanged small presents, bottles of spirits and tobacco, sang carols ... and played football.

This rare and extraordinary moment of peace and human fraternity – when football emerged as a common language among men of different nationalities – is considered as one of the first unstructured expressions of the European idea that emerged in concrete form after the Second World War.

UEFA is planning to celebrate this remarkable event at the end of the year. UEFA President Michel Platini has invited the heads of state and/or government of the nations involved to commemorate the Christmas Truce of 1914 on 11 December, on the eve of the European Council meeting in Brussels. The projected venues for the commemorative activities are the neighbouring Belgian towns of Ypres and Comines-Warneton – where an informal football game was played.

The remembrance ceremony is planned to be held at St Martin's Church in Ypres, where the UEFA President will address those present and an animated film about the game will be shown. UEFA also intends to place a monument in the field where a game took place.

Michel Platini has sent invitations to the heads of state and/or governments of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. The presidents of these countries' national football associations will also be invited to the commemoration events.

"This remembrance ceremony," said Mr Platini, "pays homage to the soldiers who, a century ago, expressed their humanity by coming together to play football, thereby opening an important chapter in the construction of European unity and serving as an example for today's young people to follow."