Sport contributes to the good, beauty, and generosity of society and is a part of God's gift to humanity, Pope Francis shared during an audience with members of the Argentine and Italian national soccer teams ahead of their much-anticipated international friendly match held to honor the Francis' pontificate. The audience took place yesterday in the Vatican's Clementine Hall. The Holy Father urged the players to contribute to the common good in their athletic pursuits.
The Pope said that the values of camaraderie, generosity, and beauty cultivated by sports contribute to the common good of all people, and he said that even professional athletes should, as much as possible, cultivate a healthy "amateur" attitude toward their sport, playing firstly for the love of the game. “This is a social responsibility! Let me explain: In the game, when you are on the field, you find beauty, generosity, camaraderie. If a game is missing this, it loses its might, even if the team wins,” Francis said.
Francis joked that it was good that the match will not contribute to FIFA standings. “Really, it would be a little difficult for me to be a fan, but fortunately it’s a 'friendly,'” the Pope jibbed, alluding to the reality that he is a national of Argentina and is the Bishop of Rome.
The professional athlete is a "bearer of humanity," the Pope taught. “Before being champions you are human beings, human persons, with your strengths and your flaws, with your hearts and your ideas, your aspirations and your problems. And then, even if you are personalities, you remain persons, in sport and in life.”
In the Spanish language, the Holy Father, who is a rabid soccer football fan, recalled going to the matches of his favorite club as a child with his family. “We went home happy, especially during the season of '46!” That year, San Lorenzo won all its home matches in its blue and red jerseys, and went on to beat both the Spanish and Portuguese national teams."
The Holy Father stressed that, whether they like it or not, athletes are role models for people around the world. “I ask you to that you live your sport as a gift from God, an opportunity not only to bring your talents to fruition, but also as a responsibility. Dear players, I want especially to remind you that the way you behave, both on the field and off it, in life, is an example," Francis reminded the players.