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Pope Francis Meets Argentina, Italy Squads

Pope Francis, who is a big soccer fan, on Tuesday met with the Italy and Argentina squads ahead of Wednesday night’s friendly at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, which was organized in his honor. The Argentine pope with Italian roots said he was torn about which team to support.

“I thank you all for being here. Luckily, it’s a friendly, otherwise I wouldn’t know who to support!” he said during a press conference as both teams visited the Vatican. “You are popular and the people follow you, but that is a responsibility on your shoulders. Never forget the beauty of camaraderie, from when you were amateurs. Before you are champions, you must be men and bring humanity to everyone you meet.”

He added: “To the directors, I say that soccer is sport and not a business. That is the way to discourage violence. I pray for you, but I hope you pray for me too so that I can play an honest and generous game of my own.” Both teams are to give Pope Francis an olive tree that will be presented at the game and then planted in the Vatican’s gardens.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi has pulled out of the squad due to a minor muscle injury, but he still had a chance to meet Pope Francis before leaving.

Read the whole story at Football Italia »

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