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Pope Francis is hoping the World Cup, which kicks off in Brazil later on Thursday, will be played in a spirit of fraternity and fair play, and be a sign of solidarity among people.
In a video message in Portuguese to fans and organisers in Brazil, the Argentine pope said that sport was not only a form of entertainment but, above all, a means to promote the good and build a more just, fraternal and peaceful society.
“My hope is that, besides being a sporting feast, the World Cup can become a feast of solidarity among peoples,” he said in the message as reported by Reuters.
“Sport is a school of peace. It teaches us to build peace.”
As archbishop of Buenos Aires, the pontiff was a keen supporter of the San Lorenzo soccer club.
The pope is an honorary member of the club nicknamed the Saints of Boedo for the barrio where they were founded by a group of young men that included a priest in 1908.