Rome: Pope Francis has reminded international football stars including Lionel Messi and Mario Balotelli of their social responsibility and told them that there is no place for individualism.
According to a report, the pontiff spoke to players from the Italy and Argentina national teams at the Vatican on the eve of a friendly match between the sides in Rome and said that it was difficult for him to support one team, adding that he was happy that it was a friendly.
The 76-year-old, a lifelong fan of Argentine club San Lorenzo, called on the teams to make sure they used their popularity to give a good example to their fans and told the players that they were popular, and therefore had a social responsibility, the report said.
The Pope also stressed the importance of beauty, camaraderie and altruism when playing football, the report added.
The players presented Francis with a personalised shirt from each team with his name on it, a silver vase from the Argentineans and an olive tree from the Italians, the report further said.