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Pope Francis Promises Not To Pray For Argentina In World Cup

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POPE FRANCIS ARGENTINA SOCCER
FILE - In this March 31, 2013 file photo, Pope Francis holds a San Lorenzo's jersey, the Buenos Aires soccer team, handed to him by a faithful at the end of the Easter mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. Twelve years after Italy and Argentina last played, the two predominantly Roman Catholic and soccer-mad nations are renewing their storied rivalry in a game dedicated to Pope Francis, an Argentine and a big soccer fan. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File) | ASSOCIATED PRESS
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VATICAN CITY (AP) — He recently renewed his Argentine passport and remains an official card-carrying member of his favorite Buenos Aires football club. But Pope Francis has pledged absolute neutrality for the World Cup.

Francis recalled during an interview published Friday with the Barcelona newspaper "La Vanguardia," that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff had asked him during a February visit to the Vatican to at least be neutral during the competition.

Laughing, Francis said: "The Brazilians asked for neutrality. I'll keep my word because Brazil and Argentina are always opponents."

On Thursday, Francis issued a video message pep talk to players and fans alike, urging them to make the World Cup a showcase for teamwork and solidarity and not an exhibition of racism, individualism and greed.

Argentina plays its first match Sunday, against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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