Pope’s Team to Play Soccer Against Rom

The Friendly Game that Intends to Promote Inclusion Will Be Played in Lazio’s Training Field on November 21

Pope’s Team
(Photo Gino Mancini)

On Pope Francis’ initiative, the selected team of the World Rom Organization and the “Pope’s Team – Fratelli Tutti,” will play together, in fraternity a more than friendly soccer match. The Holy Father will receive the two teams in audience on Saturday, November 20. The match will be played on Sunday, the 21st, at 2:30 pm, at the Training Center of the Lazio Sports Society at Formello (the gates will open at 1:00 pm (entrance is free). On this occasion, funds will be collected to support the project to ”Kick Out Exclusion”, promoted by the diocese of Rome to foster the inclusion of the Rom and of the most fragile people.

Pope Francis’ Team

 Pope Francis took up the proposal of the World Rom Organization, with headquarters in Zagreb, to organize a soccer game that re-launches the commitment against racism and discrimination. The initiative was entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Culture. ThePope’s Team — Fratelli Tutti” is made up of Swiss Guards, Vatican dependents, children of dependents, priests that carry out their service in the Secretariat of State, in the Roman Curia, and in the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. To witness the concrete commitment of inclusion and the meaning itself of the game, three young migrants will play with the “Pope’s Team,” who were received by Sant’Egidio Community, and youth with Downs’ Syndrome, who lives the sports experience of the Special Olympics.

The Pope in Slovakia

Last September 14, Pope Francis visited personally the Lunik IX district of Kosice in Slovakia, inviting them to pass “from prejudices to dialogue, from closure to integration.” After listening to the stories of Rom women and men — between pain, rescue and hope –he reminded that “to be Church  is to live as those convoked by God, is to feel themselves owners in life, to be part of the same team.” It is a language that applies perfectly to the meaning of the friendly soccer match. Too often, said the Pope at Kosice, the Rom have been the object of preconceptions and merciless judgments, of discriminatory stereotypes, of defamatory words and gestures. With that, we have all become poorer in humanity.”

World Rom Organization

 Pope Francis’ indications on the education of the youngest is the essence of the inclusive sports experience proposed in Croatia by the World Rom Organization. Children and youngsters are involved in a method geared to prevent every form of marginalization, with particular attention to minorities and disabled people. In 2017 UEFA and the Foundation for Children, recognized and encouraged this educational system in soccer fields.

The event will be presented on November 16 during a press conference in which the presence is foreseen of Cardinal Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, of the President of Lazio Lotito, and of the immobile soccer player.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester