Friday, March 03, 2017

Clericus Cup set to kick off

 (foto: ANSA)The Vatican's Clericus Cup soccer tournament returns this weekend for its 11th season.

As of Saturday, 372 footballing priests and seminarians from 66 countries will take part in the competition on St. Peter's oratory ground, a competition which has grown significantly since it was first launched in 2007, both in terms of popularity and the quality of play.

The tournament's 18 teams, most representing Pontifical Colleges in Rome, will be sporting jerseys emblazoned with Pope Francis's words "Let's play for it, both in sport and life". 

The favourites include Marian holders Mater Ecclesiae who say they'll be "saying our prayers" to retain the title, and the much-fancied Brazilian College, which has its own Neymar.

Father Neymar, who unlike the Barcelona striker plays in midfield, said "I bear a very heavy name, a very prestigious one in the soccer world, I'll do my best to be worthy of it, God bless me".

Speaking at the tourney's presentation with Neymar was the Brazilians' 37-year-old goalie Carlo Gomes Silva, who played in the youth team of Brazilian second-division outfit Goias before taking his holy orders and might have had a career under current Italy coach Giampiero Ventura.

"It was about 20 years ago," he said, "and I was set to come to Italy and play for Cagliari, back when it was being coached by current Azzurri manager Ventura. But I didn't pass my medical, because of a (heart) arrhythmia, and nothing came of it".

The Clericus Cup Final is on May 27.

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