Weather Updates

Pope Francis remains ‘secular’ on World Cup allegiance

Journalists walk past giant phoArgentine national soccer team with Pope Francis team's training ground Vespasiano near Belo Horizonte Brazil Thursday

Journalists walk past a giant photo of the Argentine national soccer team with Pope Francis at the team's training ground in Vespasiano, near Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Thursday, June 12, 2014. Argentina will play in group F of the Brazil 2014 soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

storyidforme: 67768777
tmspicid: 24129155
fileheaderid: 11886617

Updated: June 13, 2014 1:03PM

VATICAN CITY — He recently renewed his Argentine passport and remains an official card-carrying member of his favorite Buenos Aires football club. But Pope Francis has pledged absolute neutrality for the World Cup.

Francis recalled during an interview published Friday with the Barcelona newspaper “La Vanguardia,” that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff had asked him during a February visit to the Vatican to at least be neutral during the competition.

Laughing, Francis said: “The Brazilians asked for neutrality. I’ll keep my word because Brazil and Argentina are always opponents.”

On Thursday, Francis issued a video message pep talk to players and fans alike, urging them to make the World Cup a showcase for teamwork and solidarity and not an exhibition of racism, individualism and greed.

Argentina plays its first match Sunday, against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.