Non-Violent Argentinian Football Team Named After Pope Francis Plays First Match, 2 Players Immediately Sent Off Due to Bad Behaviour

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | April 15, 2014 2:40 PM EST

To be branded as a non-violent team is already hard. More so if the team had been named after the sitting spiritual pontiff of the Roman Catholic faith. It means that the players of Papa Francisco football team have to be attuned to the traits that Pope Francis has continuously exuded, which are humility and simplicity.

REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Pope Francis sprinkles holy water with an aspergillum as a blessing during the Palm Sunday mass at Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican April 13, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

"It will be a complicated thing if we insult others," midfielder Fabian Gaddi said. But if in case the players do forget and commit something bad, "the pope is Argentine and he knows and understands us."

Football in Argentina is known for its violent colours. In fact, the Argentine Football Association has long been criticised for doing little to eradicate the building violent culture.

True enough, on its first game, the semi-professional team lost the cool and saintly demeanour afforded to its namesake. Two of its players were sent off, as well as two others from rival team Trefules.

Pope Francis has no official connection to the Papa Francisco club, despite being an avid football fan and a supporter of Buenos Aires club San Lorenzo.

Jorge Ramirez, an admirer of the pope, was the one who founded the Papa Francisco team, shortly after Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was named supreme pontiff. The Papa Francisco football team has 47 members.

"Our motto is no hooligans, no violence and no insults," Ramirez said.

The Papa Francisco football team played its first match in Lujan, a site revered by local Roman Catholics. The famous Basilica of Our Lady of Lujan could be seen from the playing field.

Gaddi and his teammates acknowledged it is difficult to maintain decorum and to be always on their best behaviour.

Nonetheless they said they will try.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi / )
Pope Francis sprinkles holy water with an aspergillum as a blessing during the Palm Sunday mass at Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican April 13, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
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