Italian soccer star Roberto Baggio is this year's winner of a special award bestowed annually by world's Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
Baggio, 43, the FIFA player of the year in 1993, was chosen Tuesday for the Peace Summit Award 2010 for his longtime efforts in charities, including pressing for the freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's detained pro-democracy leader and Peace laureate, the office of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates said Tuesday.
Baggio is more known for his soccer glory. But he has also helped fund hospitals, including raising money to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake and fighting bird flu, as well as supporting the work of the United Nations.
This year's meeting of laureates, set to start Friday, is in the southwestern Japanese city of Hiroshima, where the U.S. atomic bomb killed 140,000 people in 1945, ending World War II.
Previous such summits were held in Europe.
This year, the laureates will also be giving a special award to the representatives of the bomb victims, "to honor all those who have witnessed and endured the tragic consequences of nuclear bombardments and war, warning with their unbearable suffering present and future generations," the group said in a statement.
Past winners of the Peace Summit Award include British musician Peter Gabriel, American actors George Clooney and Don Cheadle, and Italian comedian and director Roberto Benigni.
Hopes for nuclear nonproliferation and pacifism are strong in Hiroshima. And the peace meeting this year will focus on nuclear disarmament, organizers say.
Tibetan religious leader the Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa of Poland, former South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk and East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta are scheduled to attend.