The First World War is one of the deadliest conflicts in history with more than 16 million soldiers and civilians dying during the 4-year war. When the war started on July 28, 1914 most of Europe thought the soldiers would be home by Christmas.
This was not to be the case with the hostilities lasting until November 11, 1918 but December 25, 1914 marked one of the few moments of a shared humanity among ‘enemies’ with the Christmas Day Truce.
The Christmas Day Truce was a spontaneous coming together of enemy soldiers in ‘no-man’s land’ between the trenches to play some soccer. It started with soldiers on both sides of the line, no doubt feeling the effects of trench warfare, singing Christmas carols before jumping from their safety to meet their counterparts.
“We are gathered here as one to mark that moment of brotherhood and friendship which reassures us of our shared humanity,” UEFA President Michel Platini told FIFA.com at an event in Comines-Warneton, Belgium, marking the 100th anniversary . “I find it particularly moving to imagine those young men 100 years ago finding a common language in football to express their shared brotherhood.”
UEFA is commemorating the centenary with a sculpture and a 4-minute film featuring soccer icons talking about the historic event. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United FC striker and England captain), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur FC goalkeeper and France captain), Bastian Schweinsteiger (FC Bayern Munich and Germany midfielder) and Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern Munich midfielder and former Germany captain) are all in the short film.
The UEFA tribute is only 1 of many across Europe. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge took part in the unveiling of the ‘Christmas Truce’ Football Monument at The National Memorial Arboretum in England.
Another sculpture was dedicated in the remains of St Luke’s Church in Liverpool, north west England, on December
And soccer teams took to the field in honor of the event in England, Europe, and across the Atlantic.
The United States did not become actively involved in the Great War until 1917 but that does not mean tributes have not been played in the U.S. Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer owner Arthur Blank was on hand to watch a match between volunteers for Atlanta’s British Consulate and a side of expat’s recruited from Atlanta’s German Consulate at Emory University. The match was sponsored by Soccer in the Streets.