Pope Francis on Friday warned money “risks contaminating” football and called for a return to “sporting dignity” at a Vatican meeting with players from Italian Cup finalists Fiorentina and Napoli.
“Football is a big business now because of advertising, television, etcetera. But the economic factor must not prevail over the sporting one because it risks contaminating everything,” he told them.
“As a boy I used to go to the stadium a lot, I have happy memories. Joyful moments, on Sundays, with my family. I hope football and sports in general regains that sense of a celebration,” he said.
He also said footballers had “a great responsibility” because young people looked up to them, telling them: “Your behaviour has a resonance, for better or worse”.
Napoli are the slight favourites against Fiorentina at the match on Saturday in Rome’s Olympic Stadium, hoping to clinch their club’s second final triumph.