Pope Francis promises World Cup neutrality to ease Brazilian support fears

Pope Francis has said he will honour a request by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to remain neutral during the World Cup. The pope, who has supported his homeland of Argentina in the past, confirmed in an interview with the Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia that he would not be supporting any team this year.

The Brazilians asked for neutrality. I’ll keep my word because Brazil and Argentina are always opponents.

Pope Francis

In a taped message ahead of the tournament on Thursday, the Pope said he hoped the tournament would bring together people from around the world. He said the sport supported three essential attitudes for peace: training, fair play and honouring your opponent. The message was delivered in Portuguese for the organisers, players and fans of the World Cup in Brazil. The Pope is known to be a fan of the game: in December, his hometown San Lorenzo won the Argentine soccer championship and visited the Vatican City to celebrate with the pontiff.