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Last Updated: Monday, 18 December 2006, 14:51 GMT
Top cardinal dreams of Vatican FC
By Christian Fraser
BBC News, Rome

A Serie A match between Palermo (white) and Roma in Rome on  17 December 2006
The Vatican wants its team to compete with Serie A's best
A senior Roman Catholic cardinal says he hopes the Vatican may one day field a football team good enough to compete with Italy's top sides.

Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone envisaged a team that might challenge famous Serie A clubs like Roma, Inter Milan and Sampdoria.

He said the Church's seminaries and Catholic youth clubs around Italy were full of talented footballers.

He said they would gladly pull on the Vatican's yellow-and-white colours.

'Timely intervention'

There are some very serious football fans in the Vatican, and Cardinal Bertone is one of them.

He is a diehard Juventus supporter and, while Archbishop of Genoa, often commentated on Sampdoria games for local TV.

"I do not preclude the possibility that the Vatican, in the future, could put together a football team of great value, that could play on the same level as Roma, Inter Milan and Sampdoria," he said.

In a football league that has been mired in corruption and controversy, this is perhaps a timely intervention.

Any doubts about the skills at the Vatican's disposal could be answered by some very talented Brazilians studying to become priests at the Church's universities, seminaries and youth clubs.

And if football's success is dependent on money and supporters, then the Vatican is unlikely to struggle.

There are really only two questions that need to be answered about this future Vatican team.

The first is whether it should really be competing in the domestic league - it is, after all, the world's smallest state.

And then, of course, there is the football calendar. There might be some difficulty in fielding a team on a Sunday.

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