Lionel Messi to play in Vatican’s interreligious peace match

The Vatican has lined up an international football dream team to play an “interreligious match for peace” in Rome’s Olympic Stadium.

Catholics involved include Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi, Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Italian international Andrea Pirlo.

They will be joined by self-professed “non-practising Muslim” Zinedine Zidane, who manages Real Madrid, and Italian Buddhist convert Roberto Baggio.

Other stars include Japan’s Yuto Nagatomo and Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o.

The idea for the game on September 1 came out of a meeting between football fan Pope Francis and the Argentine and Italian teams last year.

Former Internationale captain and Argentine player Javier Zanetti suggested the Vatican organise a sporting event for people of different religions.

All the proceeds will be donated to a schools network set up by the Pontifical Academy for Sciences and supported by Messi and Buffon called Scholas Occurrentes, and to the PUPI Foundation, a children’s charity in Buenos Aires set up by Zanetti and his wife Paula.

Messi won the Golden Ball award as the outstanding player in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

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