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Friday, May 20, 2016

Speaking with Italian soccer players

At 12:00noon today, in the Sala Clementina at the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience the Directors of Italy's Series A Football League as well as players from the Juventus and AC Milan teams.

Speech of His Holiness, Pope Francis
to football players

Dear friends of Italian football,

I am happy to welcome you on the occasion of the final match of the Italian Cup, which will be played tomorrow evening in the Olympic Stadium here in Rome.  I greet you all cordially: directors, players, coaches and those accompanying the Juventus and Milan teams, as well as representatives of the Series A National League, with your President, Maurizio Beretta, who I thank for his kind words.

Your presence offers me an opportunity to express my appreciation for the professional qualities and beautiful traditions that distinguish your sports society and the environment of soccer in general.  I think of the many fans, especially the young, who follow you faithfully.  You attract the attention of these people, who admire you and therefore you are called to lead in a way that allows them to see in you the human qualities of athletes who are committed to bearing witness to the authentic values of sport.

The success of a team is in fact a result of a multitude of human virtues: harmony, loyalty, a capacity for friendship and for dialogue, solidarity; it's a matter of spiritual values that become sports values.  Exercising these morals, you can make the true goal of the world of sport stand out even more, especially because the world of sports can at times be marked by negative elements.

It is simply a matter of demonstrating that each one of you, before you were soccer players, were and are persons, with your limits and your strengths, but above all with your own conscience, which I hope will always be illuminated by your relationship with God.  Nevertheless, there is among you a taste for fraternity, for mutual respect, for understanding and also for forgiveness.  See to it that mankind is always in harmony with athletics.  And in order to find this harmony between mankind and athletics, it is always helpful to remember the attitude of the amateur, the beginner which is the basis of every team, where every team is born.  Always remember this, always help the harmony between mankind and athletics to grow.  Be companions of sports, but above all, champions of life.  Always celebrate that which is truly good and beautiful, by authentically bearing witness to the values that characterize authentic sports ; and do not be afraid to make known with serenity and equilibrium to all the world, your admirable moral and religious principles which you want to inspire your own lives.  From this perspective, there is help to promote the Series A Football League, in order that football might be a positive message for the whole of society.

Once again I thank you for your visit and I wish you every good thing.  I ask you please, to pray for me, for I need your prayers in order to accomplish my work, and I invoke upon you and your families the Lord's blessing. 
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