Pope Francis to Vatican soccer team: Let sport be a place of encounter

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22/11/2021
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Pope Francis addressed members of the Vatican's soccer team, comprised of Swiss Guards, priests, Vatican employees, migrants, and a young man with Down syndrome before a charity match with members of the Roma community. 

The event hosted at the Lazio soccer club's training ground supports inclusivity initiatives in the diocese of Rome.

-'Today we have a historic match, with our brothers and with our friends.'

POPE FRANCIS
'Thank you all for agreeing to be part of the 'Pope's team.' It is a team where there are no divisions and which simply makes inclusion the norm.”

Pope Francis heard the testimony of a Romani man, and reflected on his encounter with the Roma community in Košice, Slovakia, in September, recalling the hardships they face integrating into society. 

POPE FRANCIS
'All too often, I told the Roma people of Košice, 'you have been the object of prejudice and harsh judgments, discriminatory stereotypes, defamatory words and gestures. As a result, we are all poorer, poorer in humanity.'”

He also stressed the right of children to grow up without discrimination, and recognized the value of sport in bringing people of different backgrounds together. 

POPE FRANCIS
'Children, all children, have the right to grow up together, without obstacles and without discrimination. And sport is a place of encounter and equality, and can build community through bridges of friendship.'

The Pope was then presented with a jersey with his name written in the Romani language, and which on the front reads “on the ball together, against racism, discrimination, and poverty.”

The match was refereed by the captain of Lazio's soccer team, Ciro Immobile, and the final score was 7-7.

JM

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