Pope Francis on Friday said football stars should speak out about their moral and religious beliefs so that they may be ethical role models for their fans, giving an audience to Italian league football players.
Juventus and AC Milan teams were granted an audience at the Vatican, along with Serie A football league executives, on the eve of squaring off for Saturday’s final of the Italian Cup in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.
“You should simply show that each one of you, before being a footballer, is a person with its own faults and virtues.
“But above all with its conscience, which I hope will always be illuminated by a connection with God.
“Be champions is sport, but above all champions in life and do not be afraid of revealing to your fans the moral and religious principles which you would like your life to be inspired,’’ Francis said.
Argentine-born Francis is a well-known football fan, rooting for Buenos Aires-based Atletico San Lorenzo de Almagro.
Report says in an interview in 2015, he said he never watched matches on TV but that he had a Swiss Guard that kept him updated on his team’s results. (dpa/NAN)