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Papal Ball - Danny Robins - BBC Radio Soccer Documentary - cheops
Can priests save Italian football`s soul?
It must have been difficult, but the comedian and writer Danny Robbins managed to find one European football tournament played between countries this year that had a British interest. The Clericus Cup comprises 16 teams and 71 nationalities, with players drawn from the seminaries of that hotbed of football, Vatican City.
Seventy two nations are represented among the 18 teams taking part, including Ukraine, Iraq, Malta, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Papua New Guinea, Brazil and England.
The teams pray together before games and there is a strict code of sportsmanship - where fair play is more important than winning.
As one of the British team said: `It's about competing, but competing in the right manner.`
The tournament is the brainchild of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone - the Vatican`s secretary of state, effectively the Pope`s number two. The 73-year-old Bertone is a lifelong Juventus fan. During his time as Archbishop of Genoa, he used to commentate on matches on local radio.
The values of the tournament stand as a stark contrast to Italian professional football, which has been plagued by corruption and violence in recent years.
The fans are, to say the least, vocal. The American team from the Pontifical North American College, or PNAC, had one of the largest supports. Nicknamed the Knackers, they were led by a priest in a cowboy hat. Their fans favourite chant is a rousing `Come on you Knackers, kick some Caboose.` The Americans seemed pretty confident, as one of their midfielders said:
`When you love God you can't lose.` They lost 4-0...
The British team had already been eliminated by semi-final stage. In a horrible echo of Euro 2008 qualifying, they lost to a team of Croatian priests. Tony Preston, the team's captain seemed pretty philosophical:
`The whole idea, not to get too heavy, is the idea of sport bringing the finer qualities out of humanity, like humility in victory and gracious in defeat - we've got a bit of experience in that.`
One episode of approximately 30 minutes.
Type : mpeg 1 layer III
Bitrate : 128
Mode : joint stereo
Frequency : 48000 Hz
Encoder : Lame 3.98
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