Pope Francis met with the Italy and Argentina squads ahead of tomorrow’s game. “Luckily it’s a friendly, otherwise I wouldn’t know who to support!”
The Pope is from Argentina, but has remained very attached to his Italian roots, so this match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome was organised in his honour.
The teams visited the Vatican together this afternoon in a private session, though the Pontiff made some comments to the Press.
“I thank you all for being here. Luckily it’s a friendly, otherwise I wouldn’t know who to support!” he smiled.
“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.
“To the directors I say that football 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.”
The Italy and Argentina squads also gave Pope Francis the gift of an olive tree, which will also be presented at the Stadio Olimpico tomorrow and then planted in the Vatican gardens.