Pope calls soccer a gift from God but also a responsability

Francis receives Italy, Argentina on eve of friendly in Rome

13 August, 17:06

    Pope Francis with the shirt of Sal Lorenzo team (archive) Pope Francis with the shirt of Sal Lorenzo team (archive)

    (ANSAmed) - VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis told the Italian and Argentine national teams Tuesday that soccer was a gift from God. "I ask you to experience the sport as a gift from God, an opportunity to make your talents bear fruit, but also as a responsibility," he told the players during an audience at the Vatican. Soccer-loving Pope Francis confessed Tuesday he is torn as to whom to root for in the upcoming friendly between Italy and Argentina, his home team. "It will be a bit difficult for me when it comes to cheering, but fortunately this is a friendly - and I strongly advise that it truly remains as such," said Francis in an audience at the Vatican with the two national teams.

    They are playing in his honor at Rome's Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday, something the Vatican says will help launch an international schools network based on the pope's work as an archbishop in Buenos Aires.

    "Before you are champions, your are men first of all, human beings, with your gifts and flaws, with your hearts and ideas, aspirations and problems," the pope told the players. "So even if you're famous figures, always be men, in sport and in life.

    Men who display humanity. "Please, I ask that you pray for me, so that even I, on the field where God has placed me, can play the honest and courageous match for the good of all of us".


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