Pope Francis has a message for the World Cup: Let football be a showcase for teamwork and solidarity, not an exhibition of racism and greed.
The Argentine-born, football-loving pope recorded a video message that will be broadcast on Brazilian television ahead of Thursday's opening match.
In it, Francis said football teaches three lessons that can promote peace and solidarity: the need to train and work hard to reach goals, the importance of fair play and teamwork, and the need to respect and honor opponents.
He said: "To win, one must overcome individualism, selfishness, all forms of racism, intolerance and manipulation of people." He said being "greedy" in football, as in life, is an obstacle.
"Let nobody turn their back on society and feel excluded!" he said. "No to segregation! No to racism!" (Associated Press)