(IN THE PHOTO: Milan with the Pope)
MILAN – A very special and emotional moment for Milan who were at the Vatican on Friday to meet Pope Francis. Here is how the day went for the Rossoneri:
10.43 – the Milan players, coaching staff and management arrived by coach ahead of the audience with His Holiness. Juventus arrived afterwards while the Lega Serie A President Maurizio Berretta arrived just before 11.00. The match officials for the TIM Cup final were also present.12.00 – the audience with the Pope started with the Lega Serie A President introducing Milan and Juventus to the Pope and making reference to them as being amongst the most decorated clubs in the world. His Holiness then spoke to the players, calling on them to look inside themselves as men and professionals in order to keep being an example to the young. On behalf of Milan, Barbara Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani, and on behalf of Juventus, Andrea Agnelli and Giuseppe Marotta, gave a series of gifts to the Pope, including signed shirts, each one with number 1 Francis on the back. The audience came to a close with each person present meeting the Pope.
Here is what Pope Francis had to say: "Be champions in sport, but above all champions in life. Your presence gives me the opportunity to express my appreciation for the professional qualities and beautiful traditions that distinguish your clubs and the football environment in general. I think many fans, especially young people, really follow you with a lot of enthusiasm. You attract the attention of these people, who admire you; and thus you are called to lead so they can always see in you the human qualities of athletes committed to witness the true values of sport. The success of a team is the result of a variety of human virtues: harmony, loyalty, the ability of friendship and dialogue, solidarity; it comes from spiritual values which become sporting values. By exercising these moral qualities, you can make the true purpose of the sports stand out even more, which at times is also marked by negative elements. You have to prove that each of you, before being a football player, is a person, with his limitations and strengths, but above all with his conscience, which I hope is always illuminated by the relationship with God. You should never be lacking in fraternity, mutual respect, understanding and even forgiveness.
"Man should always be in harmony with the athlete. You always have to praise what is truly good and beautiful, through a sincere witness to the values that should characterize true sport; and not be afraid to make known with serenity to the world of your moral and religious principles to which you want to inspire to in your life. Serie A is playing its part so that football can be a positive message for the whole of society."
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