Italy-Argentina friendly celebrated by Pope Francis
The Argentine is of Italian origin and a friendly between the two countries was created in his honour and will take place at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
The Pontiff spoke to the press on Tuesday as the two sides visited the Vatican in the afternoon.
“I thank you all for being here. Luckily it’s a friendly, otherwise I wouldn’t know who to support!” he said.
“You are popular and people follow you, but that is a responsibility that you have.
“Never forget the beauty of camaraderie, from when you were amateurs. Before you are champions, you must be men and bring humanity to everyone you meet.
“To the directors I say that football is sport and not a business. That is the way to discourage violence.
“I pray for you, but I hope you pray for me too so that I can play an honest and generous game of my own.”
Pope Francis was given the gift of an olive tree by the Italy and Argentina squads which will be presented at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday, then planted in the gardens at the Vatican.