To commemorate the unique sporting events that took place between soldiers of war-torn nations during unofficial ceasefires around the first Christmas of World War I, the Premier League has gifted a new 3G football pitch to the Belgian city.
To mark the opening, Under-12 sides from each of the 20 current English top flight clubs are competing in the Christmas Truce National Tournament in Belgium over the next three days, with the two finalist teams set to return on December 13 and 14 for the International Tournament – which was first run in 2011 – against sides from Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and Scotland.
Educational trips to Langemarck German Military Cemetery, Dochy Farm New British Cemetery, The Old Cheese Factory and Tyne Cot CWGC, the largest War Cemetery in the world, have also been arranged to enable the tournament’s young participants to learn some of the history behind World War I.
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore, who today opened the new 3G pitch on KVK Westhoek’s Crack Stadion facility with Mayor of Ypres Jan Durnez, said: “The Christmas Truce Pitch is not only an appropriate commemoration of the centenary of the First World War, it is also a unique opportunity to build a lasting sporting and cultural experience beyond 2014.
“Bringing club and community together is a model all Premier League clubs deliver and we are pleased to be playing our part in creating a community asset for the people of Ypres.
“The history here tells us that football has a fantastic ability to unite and break down barriers. This pitch will allow young people from all across Europe the chance to do that, linking what happened in Ypres during the First World War to their education."