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Papal encouragement for Italian soccer squads

May 20, 2016

"Be champions in your sport, but above all be champions in life," Pope Francis said to professional soccer players with whom he met on May 20.

The Pope-- an avid lifelong soccer fan-- met with players from the Juventus and Milan squads. He encouraged them to maintain "the professional capacities and beautiful traditions that distinguish your sporting associations and the football environment in general." 

Professional sports are "often marred by negative elements," the Pope remarked, but they also can highlight "a variety of human virtues: harmony, loyalty, the capacity for friendship and dialogue, and solidarity." He told the players that in light of their public prominence and their status as role models, they are "called upon to behave in a manner that always highlights the human qualities of athletes committed to bearing witness to authentic sportsmanship." 


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