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News

Messi to play for Vatican’s multi- faith ‘Match for peace’ fundraiser
23 July 2014 14:50 by Liz Dodd

The Vatican has lined up a football dream team to play an “interreligious match for peace” at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on 1 September.

Catholics involved include Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi, Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, former Italian Serie A Internazionale captain Javier Zanetti and Andrea Pirlo.

They will be joined by retired midfielder and Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane (a self-professed “non-practising Muslim”), and Buddhist convert Roberto Baggio.

Japanese defender Yuto Nagatomo and Samuel Eto'o, a Cameroonian forward, will also be playing.

The idea for the match came out of a meeting between Pope Francis – a huge fan of the game – and the Argentine and Italian teams in August 2013 following a friendly match organised in Francis' honour. Zanetti suggested the Vatican organise a sporting event for people of different religions.

Tickets will be available for the match from 25 July, and all the proceeds will be donated to a schools network set up by the Pontifical Academy for Sciences and supported by Messi and Buffon called Scholas Occurrentes, and to the PUPI Foundation, a children’s charity in Buenos Aires set up by Zanetti and his wife Paula.

Above: Messi and Buffon met the Pope in a private audience in August before the Argentina-Italy friendly set up in Francis' honour. Photo: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters