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Thuram opens West Bank stadium

French football icon Lilian Thuram inaugurated a spanking new international stadium in the West Bank yesterday by kicking off the Palestinian cup final.

Thuram, a hero of France’s 1998 World Cup victory, wound up a four-day visit to the West Bank by taking the first kick in the first division championship final between Al Bireh and Wadi Al Nees.

The 9,000-capacity stadium at Al Bireh, on the outskirts of the West Bank political and economic centre of Ramallah, was built at a cost of one million euros ($1.45 million) funded by France, Germany, the United Nations, FIFA and the Al Bireh municipality.

Founder of a foundation for “education against racism”, Thuram has met football-crazy Palestinian youngsters in the West Bank towns of Jericho, Hebron and Ramallah as well as east Jerusalem during his stay, organised by the Palestine FA and the French consulate general in Jerusalem.

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