Pope Francis' love for soccer began at home

Jim Gardner Image
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
VIDEO: Pope Francis' love for soccer began at home
Action News is in Argentina all this week, learning about Pope Francis' hometown of Buenos Aires and what shaped his views and faith.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (WPVI) -- In South America, there are two things that stir passions like nothing else: politics and soccer.

Argentina is in the middle of a presidential campaign, but soccer is still and will always be number one.

Any street or sidewalk can serve as a pitch in Buenos Aires.

Soccer is everywhere.

70 years ago, Jorge Bergoglio, the man who would become Pope, played soccer all day when he lived in his house in the Flores neighborhood.

The name of his worshipped team, San Lorenzo, is still scrawled on the side of houses in the neighborhood where he grew up.

Francis was in his true glory when the team came to the Vatican last year to share with their number one fan the trophy for winning the South American championship.

Francis makes sure he gets all the scores after every game, but he has not attended a San Lorenzo game since he became Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998.

Sorry Pope Francis, we got you there.

We were there for game day at Pedro Bidegain Stadio, located right at the edge of one of Buenos Aires' notorious slums.

The fans were psyched for the tournament game against Crucero Del Norte from the small town of Garupa, north of Buenos Aires.

These fans are confident, and why wouldn't they be?

They've got the pope on their side.

We also met the man dubbed the "Pontifan." He told me he couldn't give me a score, but he had it on excellent authority that San Lorenzo would win.

(I wonder if he placed a small wager. Wouldn't that be like insider trading?)

By the way, San Lorenzo did win the game, 2-1.

And with all the controversies on the pope's plate, like whether to give communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, he can take a moment and dream about a championship.

Pope Francis, as Eagles fans, nobody understands better than we do.