No bull | Holy brethren compete for champions’ cup

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Link to ANSA articleZagreb, Croatia | In an item from the Italian news agency ANSA concerning an “upcoming European Champions cup for holy brethren,” we were surprised to learn that there is no patron saint for football. Given the Vatican’s known interest in the game (see Dec 2), one might have expected a designee. Players for the Italian side—a blend of priests and Capuchin friars—mention that they pray to Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, to ward off injury. And should one ever have the need, a variety of soccer-playing Christopher medals are available for purchase.

Hosts Croatia won the first version of the Champions Clerum. The second edition opened yesterday with England, Romania, France, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal and Spain as additional competitors. The side from Spain are called “Os Chispas” (The sparks). “He is the Light and we are just sparkles,” says Fr. Luis Pérez, parish priest of Santiago de la Caldas and the coach of the Spanish team. Sensibly, Os Chispas petition the Lord for victory “if we are able and, above all, that we don’t injure ourselves, because on the next day we have Masses and parishes that we must take care of,” says Fr. Tomás.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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