Pope Reminds Italian Football Teams of Their Responsibility as Role Models

Pope Recalls Childhood, Speaks of Family Visits to the Stadium

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In an address to Italian soccer teams today, Pope Francis said the game «is a social entity, and requires social responsibility on the part of players, both on and off the pitch, and by national and local managers.”

Sharing some “joyful moments” from his youth, the Pope reminisced about visiting the football stadium with his family on Sundays. He said he would like football and all other popular sports to rediscover a celebratory dimension.

“Today, even football is caught up in the world of business, advertising, television and so on,» he said. «But the economic aspect must not prevail in sport, as it risks contaminating it all, at international, national and also local levels. It is therefore necessary to react positively from above, restoring sporting dignity to events.”

Reminding the footballers of their great responsibility as role models to many young people, Francis said: “Bear this in mind, and consider that your behaviour is resonant, both positively and negatively. Always be true sportsmen!”

The Holy Father said in closing that “sport has great educative value, for the growth of the person: personal growth, in the harmony of body and spirit, and social growth, in terms of solidarity, loyalty and respect. May football always enable the development of this potential!”

The Italian football clubs of Florence and Naples were present at today’s audience, as well as a delegation from the Football Federation and the Serie A League. (D.C.L.)

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