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Francis is a life-long football fan and has long pushed sport as a way of promoting solidarity and fraternity.
Speaking at the end of his weekly Wednesday general audience, the Pope sent greetings to World Cup players, fans and spectators watching from afar.
“May this important event be an occasion for meeting and harmony for nations, favouring brotherhood and peace among peoples. Let’s pray for peace in the world, and the end of all conflicts,” he said.
The 85-year-old Argentine is a card-holding fan of the Buenos Aires club San Lorenzo.