Football fan Pope to meet national squad

Football fan Pope to meet national squad
Pope Francis will meet the football players at the Vatican Apostolic Palace. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP
Pope Francis will meet Italy and Argentina players on the eve of their friendly in Rome but will not attend the August 14th game, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Francis, who is himself from Argentina and is known to be a keen football fan, was elected earlier this year as the first ever Latin American pontiff.

"It will be a purely private meeting," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told AFP.

The meeting will take place in the richly-decorated Clementine Hall in the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

On a visit to Brazil earlier this month, the pope remarked that the sport was a "national passion" in the country but quickly pointed out that "Jesus offers us something better than the World Cup".

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