Pope Francis “may” watch the World Cup final on Sunday between his native Argentina and Germany but is unlikely to do so alongside his German predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the Vatican has said.
“He might want to watch the final,” said Vatican spokesman Father Lombardi, but added the late kick-off would be too late for Pope Francis, who is normally in bed before 10pm.
Regarding Benedict XVI, Father Lombardi said: “I don’t believe he watches sport, I don’t know, but in the past I didn’t get the impression that he watched it much.” He did keep informed of big matches as Pope but did not follow his home team, Bayern Munich.
Pope Francis continues to be an avid fan and card-carrying member of the San Lorenzo de Almagro - a club he has followed since childhood.
Commentators have been joking that Sunday’s match has turned from “World Cup” to “Pope Cup” now that the two papal nationalities have reached the final.
L’Osservatore Romano in fact predicted that Argentine and Germany would reach the final in a recent article. Former player Tommaso Damiani, a devout Catholic, wrote in the newspaper “there could be a final that will go down in history because of its unusual supporters” – Francis and Benedict.
Although the upcoming match is seen as light relief, Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad has sounded a serious note. In a recent interview in which he warned that Christian life will eventually come to an end in the region, he chastised Western states who, he said, "find football" in the current World Cup "more interesting than the situation here or in Syria."