Pope Francis’ gave an address today to the delegations of the national soccer teams of Italy, Juventus and AC Milan, in the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace, the day before they compete in the final match of the Italian Cup tomorrow night at Rome’s Olympic Stadium:
Dear Friends of Italian Soccer,
I am happy to receive you on the occasion of the final match of the Italy Cup, which will be played tomorrow evening at Rome’s Olympic Stadium. I greet you cordially, Directors, soccer players, technicians and escorts of Juventus and of Milan, as well as the representatives of the Serie A National League, with the President Maurizio Beretta, whom I thank for his words.
Your presence offers me the opportunity to express my appreciation for the professional talent and the beautiful traditions that distinguish your sports societies and the environment of soccer in general. I think of the many fans, especially young people, who like to follow you. You attract the attention of these people, who admire you; therefore, you are called to behave so that they can always perceive in you the human qualities of athletes committed to witnessing the authentic values of sport.
The success of a team, in fact, is the result of a multiplicity of human virtues: harmony, loyalty, the capacity for friendship and dialogue, solidarity; they are spiritual values, which become sports values. By exercising these moral qualities, you can highlight even more the true end of the world of sport, marked sometimes also by negative episodes.
It is simply about demonstrating that, before being a soccer player, each one of you is a person, with his limitations and his merits, but above all with his conscience, which I hope is always enlightened also by your relationship with God.
Therefore, may the flavor of fraternity, of mutual respect, understanding and also forgiveness never fail among you. Make it so that the man is always in harmony with the athlete. And to find this harmony between man and athlete, it is always very helpful to rediscover the attitude of the amateur, of the “dilettante,” which is the basis of a team, of which it is born. Always rediscover this, which makes the harmony between man and athlete grow. Be champions in sport, but, above all, champions in life!
Always exalt what is truly good and beautiful, through a pure witness of the values that should characterize genuine sport. And do not be afraid to make known to your admirers, with serenity and balance, the moral and religious principles on which you wish to base your life. Of help in this perspective, is the effort that the Serie A League is making, so that the game of soccer can constitute a positive message for the entire society.
I thank you again for your visit and I wish you every good. I ask you, please, to pray for me, and I invoke upon you and upon your families the Lord’s blessing.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]