Pope says to visit native Argentina in 2016

Vatican City: Pope Francis told members of his favourite Buenos Aires football team on Wednesday that he would visit his native Argentina in 2016 for the 200th anniversary of its independence, the club said.

"He said that in 2016 he will go to Argentina," Marcelo Tinelli, vice president of the San Lorenzo football club, told reporters after meeting the pope with other managers and players from the Buenos Aires team.

The football-mad pope earlier on Wednesday greeted the team after a general audience in St Peter`s Square following their victory in the national championship.

The Vatican said the 77-year-old pontiff, who is still a member of the club he used to watch as a child with his father, was delighted when they clinched the title.

The club delegation handed a smiling Francis their championship trophy as a gift, which the pope said he would keep in a museum.

They also gave him their red-and-blue jersey with "Francisco Campeon" ("Francis Champion") on the back and the goalkeeper`s gloves used in a save that helped them win the tournament, Tinelli said.

"It was the hand of Francis, the hand of God," he said.

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