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Rome Reports

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Pope meets soccer stars for first Vatican conference on their favorite sport


Football and its positive values. This is what Pope Francis wanted to talk about in a conference which he organized in the Vatican entitled "The soccer that we love."

There were many stars of the beautiful game such as Clarence Seedorf, Javier Zanetti, Samuel Eto'o and Claudio Ranieri.

In addition, more than 6,000 children from soccer teams all over Italy filled the Paul VI Audience Hall with a sea of color. The children's Serie A teams also attended, which is the highest category of soccer in Italy. Everyone there listened attentively to the advice given by their heroes.

"I would like to warn you about the envy we see so often in life. Sports especially have this power. I hope you are aware of this. I hope that when one of your teammates is successful, you celebrate him and are happy for him. Then, one day he will reciprocate that affection.”

The main messages of the day centered around the importance of education, respect, teamwork, and a resounding 'no to racism.'

Everyone knew that at 12 o'clock the audience with the pope would take place. However, the children became impatient when the pope ran late.

"Pope Francis! Pope Francis!”

He arrived half an hour later than planned. During his speech, the pope was very frank with them.

POPE FRANCIS
"Soccer is a team sport and that's good for everyone. Many people define soccer as the most beautiful game in the world... I think so too.”

Before the end of the audience, there was also time for some freestyle drills.

CLAUDIO RANIERI
Roma Coach
"There has been talk of soccer, of sport, of inclusion, playing and having fun. It's been a beautiful day.”

JAVIER ZANETTI
Retired soccer player
"He is a pope who likes soccer very much. He is a passionate fan of San Lorenzo in Argentina. This fact always fills us with pride."

Since the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has never had any trouble in showing his deep passion for this sport. To him, soccer is not 'just a game,' but rather a universal language and a school of values.