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Pope knows his sports, says soccer club exec

Bookies bet pontiff will go to Rome stadium this season

19 March, 20:17
Pope knows his sports, says soccer club exec

(By Kate Carlisle)

(ANSA) - Rome, March 19 - Pope Francis is a fervent soccer fan who "really knows the technique and tactics of the game," Club Atletico Buenos Aires San Lorenzo de Almagro team executive Jose Capria said in an interview with Vatican Radio to be aired Wednesday.

Speaking on the program 'Not only Sports', Capria said that "as a child, Jorge Mario Bergoglio expressed his love and his interest for the red and blue jersey of Atletico San Lorenzo. He was a supporter of the club, he played sports, including rugby, together with his father". Cardinal Bergoglio, inaugurated Pope Francis on Tuesday, remains a card-carrying member of the team's club.

"His membership number is 88235N-0 San Lorenzo and on Sunday he was often in the stadium stands to watch the game. He is an avid member, season-ticket holder and supporter of the club," Capria said. Pope Francis was also consulted by team players, said Capria.

Argentine striker Alberto Acosta "often spoke to Bergoglio about his field position. He is informed about soccer....along with being a pastor, he is in touch with his flock. And if one's flock is in Argentina, then the flock is certainly concerned with football," Capria said.

Club President Matias Lammens and former coach Marcelo Vazquez sent a greeting to the newly elected pontiff, calling him the "Pope of San Lorenzo".

"Bergoglio has taken part in important moments in the life of San Lorenzo, including the club's 100-year anniversary and the inauguration of the club chapel," the message said. Bookmakers are setting the odds that Pope Francis goes to the Olympic stadium in Rome to see a match before the end of the season, specifically to see AS Roma, where Argentine attacking midfielder Erik Lamela plays.

Pope Francis also enjoyed dancing the tango with his girlfriend as a young man in Buenos Aires, according to a 2010 book-length interview with the former archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

As an archbishop in Buenos Aires, the new pope was known for living in a modest flat and using public transport.

Francis became the first non-European pope in 1,300 years after Benedict's shock abdication last month.

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