World Cup final watchers? Francis maybe, Benedict won't

Argentine fans with Pope masks

Football-mad Pope Francis 'might' watch the World Cup final on Sunday between his native Argentina and Germany but is unlikely to do so alongside his German predecessor Benedict XVI, contrary to media speculation, the Vatican said.

AFP/SMH

'He might want to watch the final,' Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, said of Pope Francis (formerly the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio) - a fan and card-carrying member of the San Lorenzo de Almagro club in the Argentinian capital since childhood.

But a Vatican source said he 'excluded categorically' the prospect of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, an academic theologian with a penchant for classical piano, sitting down in front of his television set to watch the face-off.

'It's really not his thing, he is not a fan. It would be like inflicting an infinite penitence on him at the age of 87,' the source said, adding: 'He has never been able to watch a football match from beginning to end in his life.'

Pope Emeritus Benedict did like to keep informed on football results while he was Pope and could at least comment on the big matches but he did not follow his home team, Bayern Munich. That has not prevented a few jokes from doing the rounds in the Vatican ahead of the big game at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium.

Father Thomas Rosica, a member of the Vatican communications team, quipped in a tweet: 'Unconfirmed reports in Italian media: large quantities of mate and Fanta delivered to Vatican for private event Sunday' - a reference to the famous Argentine tipple and the German fizzy drink.

The contrast could not be greater between Benedict and Francis, who is regularly updated on the activities of San Lorenzo and a team delegation came to the Vatican in December to give him their trophy after they won the national championship.

FULL COVERAGE

World Cup: Vatican rules out a game of two Popes (SMH)

Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final (CNA)

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