Published: Mon, 06 January 2014
Sean Kelly MEP has proposed that GAA games be played in the historical city of Ypres, Belgium, to mark the centenary of the commencement of the First World War (1914) next year.
The former GAA President made the proposal following the announcement that the English Premier League is to build a floodlit third generation artificial pitch in Ypres by November 2014, as part of the centenary commemorations.
“The Premier League’s plans are a fitting tribute as we reach the centenary of the commencement of World War I,” Mr Kelly said.
“I have raised the possibility of the Premier League allowing other sporting organisations to use the facility. If this is possible, I would like to investigate the possibility of holding commemorative games of Gaelic Football and Hurling on the pitch, to pay tribute to the memory of thousands of people from all communities on the island of Ireland who perished in the conflict.
“Such an occasion would highlight the positive power of sport in bringing people together, bridging divides and would also afford us an opportunity to pay tribute to those who have gone before us. It was in this spirit that we worked to open up Croke Park, the fourth largest sports stadium in Europe, to soccer and rugby, during my term as President of the GAA.”
Mr Kelly has forwarded his proposal to the English Premier League and is awaiting a response.
The Premier League has been running an annual Christmas Truce Tournament in Ypres since 2011, bringing together Under 12 teams from England, Belgium, France and Germany. The tournament honours one of the most famous moments of the First World War – the Christmas Truce – where British and German footballers stopped fighting each other on Christmas Day 1914 and played football in no-man’s land. The troops posed together for pictures and swapped gifts.
The Premier League will host a major international Christmas Truce Tournament in December 2014 to inaugurate the new pitch and mark the Truce centenary.