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Clericus Cup kicks off: Soccer face-off between priests and seminarians in the Vatican


In the world of soccer, there are players who believe strongly in the Church and there are also priests and seminarians who love soccer.

This weekend the Clericus Cup will begin, where teams of priests and seminarians from Rome will compete for the next three months.

One of the 372 participants is former Brazilian goalkeeper Carlos Gomes. His story is unique: after reaching elite soccer, a problem in his heart forced him to leave the sport for a while. It was during the break that he made a decision which changed his life.

Priest and former soccer player
"I could not play football and I was so upset... In that moment of pain, I found the strength I needed at that moment in Jesus and this friendship with Him lead me to make the decision to become a priest." 

It was a decision that unexpectedly caught both his family and teammates with whom he played by surprise.

Priest and former soccer player
"They were super surprised, they were so surprised. No one expected it because at that moment I had a future soccer career. I was surprised too, but when Jesus calls you cannot say anything else, we just move along."

The last championship from the Clericus Cup was between Italy and Brazil, but the victory ended up being for the Italians. This Spanish priest is convinced that Spain has serious potential this year, even though he admits the seminarians are entering with an advantage.

Spanish College
"It's always the Urbaniana University and those who won last year were from the Mater Eclesiae College. In seminaries, the men are very young, like 18 and 20 years old, and I am almost 47."

He says that although many do not see it, soccer and religion have many values and themes in common.

Spanish School
"Each man for himself, even if he is very good on the field, he cannot do anything if he does not play the ball. I think this a model for the life of faith and especially for the life of priests, because each one on their own can't do anything."

Until May 27, the soccer champions will be a mystery. This year, surely Pope Francis will follow closely because it is, as he has said many times, his favorite sport.

- BN