Staff at British Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates around the world are marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War Christmas Truce by organising a series of football events, to commemorate the moment that British and German soldiers came together in 1914 and played football in no-man’s land.

Christmas 1914

A series of unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front around Christmas 1914 took place in the week leading up to the holiday. German and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and talk, while several meetings ended in carol singing.

Men from both sides mingled and played games of football with one another, creating one of the most enduring images of the truce.

FootballRemembers in Greece

On Saturday 20 December at 13.00 Panathinaikos FC and the Greek Homeless Football Team met at the training centre of Panathinaikos FC in Koropi, Attica, for an informal football get-together, commemorating the ‘Christmas Truce’ and following an invitation from the British Embassy in Athens.

Through this event we all celebrated human diversity and delivered messages of peace, friendship, solidarity in difficult times and the positive effect of sport.

The Greek homeless team was given a tour around Panathinaikos FC’s new state-of-the art training centre and had the opportunity to meet Panathinaikos FC players, among which British goalie and former Manchester United Luke Steele.

The two teams trained together in an festive atmosphere of collaboration and team spirit while demonstrating the best of their skills. A friendly match with British Embassy staff followed with many spectacular goals from both sides.

British Ambassador John Kittmer stated:

We are commemorating the 100th anniversary of Christmas Truce just a few days ahead of Christmas 2014, as a historic moment of human solidarity that shone out amid the brutality of the Western Front. The Christmas Truce is another proof of the strength of the human soul and the amazing power of sport, which can be a source of courage and self- confidence even in the most difficult circumstances. Sport can be one of the most valuable vehicles of expression of human dignity and I warmly thank Panathinaikos FC and the Greek National Homeless Team for accepting our invitation to participate in this commemorative event.

Vice President and Executive Director of Panathinaikos FC Mr Stratos Sopilis said:

“We, at Panathinaikos FC, are always happy to support activities of a social nature such as the Christmas Truce commemoration. It was our pleasure to open up our training centre for the Greek national homeless team and Shedia, and you can be reassured that we are happy to repeat it, whenever needed”.

National Homeless Team founder and Chief Editor of Shedia Street paper Chris Alefantis said:

«A Ball Can Change The World», is the motto of the international athletic and social movement of the Homeless World Cup, a member of which is the Greek Homeless team. Indeed, football can be considered a social tool, a way to motivate people, a way to come even closer to each other and unite our voice and strength in a common battle against poverty and all forms of social exclusion. Last Saturday’s event, where players of the Greek homeless team met British Embassy staff and Panathinaikos players at their training centre sent a strong message against poverty and highlighted that the beauty and simplicity of football have the power to keep people united.

The Greek Homeless team is a symbol of hope and has become a lifeline for many people in the last few years in Greece. They travelled to Santiago, Chile, earlier this year to participate in the World Cup of Homeless Football teams. It is a project ran by Shedia street paper, a member of the International Network of Street Papers (INSP) and winner of the Social Impact Award at the Social Business excellence Awards 2014 as well as the European Citizen Award 2014 at the European Parliament. The British Embassy in Athens has supported Shedia in Sports Relief 2014.

Panathinaikos FC is one of the most popular football teams in Greece, founded in 1908.