18 June 2014, The Tablet

Brazilian President asked Pope ‘not to pray for Argentina win’

Pope Francis' love of football is famous and it can be assumed that he is supporting Argentina during the World Cup this month. But Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff thought this might give an unfair advantage to the team.

According to the Colombian archbishop, Óscar Urbina Ortega, Ms Rousseff asked Francis for two things when she visited the Vatican in February. First that he record the World Cup message, which was broadcast on Brazilian television last week. She then became serious and the Pope wondered what on earth she was going to say. According to the archbishop, "the President appealed to him for neutrality and asked him not to pray for Argentina to win, which would give them an unfair advantage."

The Pope replied "that he would pray for everyone," confirmed the archbishop.

Archbishop Urbina was among a group of bishops at the Vatican last week on behalf of the foundation Populorum Progressio for Latin America. He said the Pope had also made a joke about the Brazilian football team, saying that they had been "terrified for a moment" when Croatia scored in the eleventh minute of their match last week. Brazil went on to beat Croatia 3-1.

Above: Argentina's Hugo Campagnaro reaches for the ball during Sunday's World Cup match against Bosnia, which the Pope's home team won 2-1. Photo: CNS/Michael Dalder, Reuters

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