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Peace prevails in Tolstoy Cup battle with War


a large group of students and staff in football kit celebrate with a trophy

Peace overcame War in a friendly football clash between two universities for the Tolstoy Cup.

The University of Bradford’s Peace FC side, featuring staff from its Peace Studies department, beat King’s College London’s War Studies 3-2 in the clash, played for the first time since 2018.  

The Cup – named after Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 novel War and Peace - once featured in the Financial Times as one of the top five college sporting rivalries. Ahead of Sunday’s contest, Peace Studies had won nine of the 12 Tolstoy Cup matches since it was first played in February 1993.

A photograph from a football match featuring a number of people going for the football

Both teams carried names of famous peacemakers and those more associated with war from history on the back of their shirts. Peace FC’s blue shirts had the likes of Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations; former South Africa President Nelson Mandela; Indian independence activist Mahatma Gandhi; US civil rights activist Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa. Meanwhile, War’s red shirts featured names including Julius Caesar and Napoleon. 

A football player in a blue shirt is falling onto the ground as two players in red shirts tackle them

The two teams posed for photographs before the match, played in front of an excited crowd at the University of Bradford Sports Pitch, with proceeds raised going to the PeaceJam and War Child UK charities.

War made the early breakthrough after just two minutes of the match, through their player representing Napoleon. But Peace equalised after 11 minutes through Pope Francis, represented by Oluwatimilehin Orintunsin. 

A number of people dressed in football kit line up on the halfway line of the pitch with their backs to the camera for a photograph

Peace thought they had taken a 2-1 lead just two minutes later, but Kenyan peace activist Dekha Ibrahim Abdi’s (represented by Surinder Pal) effort was disallowed for offside. 

But there was joy for Peace on 22 minutes when Martin Luther King (Oussama Ouardi) made it 2-1. 

Five minutes before half-time, a War effort was cleared off the line. 

A football player in kit holds a framed trophy in front of them

The second-half saw War push for the equaliser, but it was home side Peace who took a 3-1 lead on the hour mark through Abdi. 

Visitors War set up a grandstand finish as they made it 3-2 on 65 minutes through their player wearing a shirt representing Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, the 12th century king of Jerusalem. 

As the tackles flew in during a competitive second period, it was Peace who hung on for the victory. The match referee was Steve Ainsworth, Chief Mediation Adviser, UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. 

Dr Alex Waterman, Peace FC captain and Lecturer in Peace Studies and International Development, University of Bradford, said: “It was a good game. It took us a few minutes to find our feet. We grew into the game. 

A large group of football players in kit with red shirts line up for a team group photograph on the pitch half standing and half of them crouching in front of them

“Credit to War, they were a good team. They fought really hard, but we fought harder. 

“Despite our fierce rivalry, the Tolstoy Cup is all about championing a good cause.

“At the end of the day, we’re both departments that want to make the world a better place, whether that’s through the study of peace or war.”

Andy Richardson, who founded the Tolstoy Cup fixture while he was a Peace Studies student at the University of Bradford, handed over the trophy to the Peace squad, said: “It’s nice to keep the match going. It is an opportunity for people of all abilities to play football together.”

The Tolstoy Cup clash marked the end of The Peace Studies Golden Jubilee Conference, held at the University of Bradford between 6 and 9 June.

Squad lists: Peace: Jesus, Adam Curle, Mahatma Ghandi, Kofi Annan, Martin Luther King, Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, Pope Francis, Maya Angelou, Mother Teresa, Wangari Maathai, Timeo, Deganawida Made, Rigoberta Menchu. 

The War team included: Blair, Thatcher, Baldwin IV, De Gaulle, Napoleon, Caesar, Churchill, Saladin