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
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
The Clericus Cup Final is on May 27.