Game of Soccer Gets Nobel Peace Nomination

Soccer, a sport with history of violence on and off the field, has been nominated for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.

Although more than a dozen fans died during stampedes and riots at games last year, Swedish lawmaker Lars Gustafsson insisted Monday the game helps international relations.

"Soccer has and will continue to play an important role in the global arena, when it comes to creating understanding between people," Gustafsson wrote in his nomination letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo.

Gustafsson said soccer has survived two world wars and scores of ethnic and regional conflicts.

Sometimes, he wrote, hostile nations meet on the soccer field when other contact would be unthinkable. He noted that Iran played the United States in the 1998 World Cup.

He said FIFA, the International Federation of Association Football, could accept the honor on behalf of the sport.

Just One of Many

Just last year, three fans were killed April 23 when thousands of fans forced their way into an overcrowded stadium for a World Cup qualifier between Liberia and Chad at Monrovia.

And on July 9, 13 people died during a stampede at World Cup qualifier between South Africa and Zimbabwe at Harare.

The nomination was one of dozens streaming into Oslo ahead of the Feb. 1 nomination deadline. Last year, there were 150 nominations for the award, which was won by South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.

Separately, the Norwegian news agency NTB reported Monday that jailed Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu has been nominated for the 2001 prize. Vanunu was sentenced in 1986 to 18 years in prison for revealing secrets about Israel's nuclear weapons program.

The Nobel awards committee never says who has been nominated, but people who nominate candidates sometimes publicize their choices. The winner is usually announced in mid-October.