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Zanetti: ‘Football match will help spread the Pope’s message of peace to the world’

Javier Zanetti presenting Pope Francis with an Inter Milan shirt last year (CNS)

A football match played by star players from different cultures and religions will help “spread the Pope’s message of peace to the world”, former Inter Milan and Argentina captain Javier Zanetti has said.

The match, that was suggested by Pope Francis, will take place at Rome’s Olympic stadium on September 1.

Zanetti, who is Catholic, told Vatican Radio: “When I spoke with Pope Francis about this project, it was a big concern for us to do something for world peace.

“I think the fact that so many stars have joined in can help professional football support peace. Although the game is raising money for charitable purposes, the most important thing we want to do is spread the Pope’s message of peace to the world.”

Along with Zanetti, other players expected to take part in the Inter-religious Match for Peace include Roberto Baggio, who is Buddhist, and Zinedine Zidane, who describes himself as a “non-practicing Muslim. Other players reported to be making an appearance are Lionel Messi, Francesco Totti, and Gianluigi Buffon.

The event is being organised by the Scholas Occurrentes initiative, an Argentine project that aims to educate the poor in different countries around the world, Italy’s Fundazione PUPI, which works to unite people of different faiths and the United Nations’ Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation is also partnering with the event.

Some of the proceeds from the match will be donated to the Un’Alternativa di Vita project which helps poor children in Buenos Aires.