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Advert for football match shows ‘Pope Francis’ tied up and threatened

A still from the Fox Sports advert (CNS)

A TV channel has released a controversial advert in which an actor playing Pope Francis is tied up and threatened.

Prior to the football match between São Paulo and San Lorenzo on March 18, Fox Sports ran an advert in which Pope Francis – a life-long supporter and member of San Lorenzo – is held hostage to stop him from influencing the result.

In a reference to San Lorenzo’s victory over São Paulo last year, one of the Brazillian kidnappers warns “black magic doesn’t win games but Catholicism does”.

The sequence ends with the kidnapper threatening Pope Francis with a cattle prod and calling the Pope’s influence on the game’s outcome “celestial doping” as he stands streaked with blood.

The aim of the advert was to encourage Brazilians to watch the game and come out in support of São Paulo. If they did not watch, the advert warned, then ‘the Pope’ would be released and allowed to use his “celestial influence” on the game’s outcome. San Lorenzo won the Copa Libertadores match 1-0.

Pope Francis’s love for his local football team is well documented. Since the pontiff’s election in March 2013 the club has enjoyed a revival in its fortune, topping the Argentine league and winning the Copa Libertadores (the South American equivalent of the Champions League) for the first time in its history. In September, the club announced that it would be naming its new stadium in his honour.