Three migrants hosted by the Sant'Egidio Community will be part of the Pope's soccer team 'All Brothers' that will play a team representing the World Roma Organization. The charity match on Sunday November 21 is aimed at fighting racism and discrimination.
In an initiative promoted by Pope Francis, the 'All Brothers' football team will play against the Zagreb-based club of the World Roma Organization on Sunday, November 21 at the Lazio training center in Formello, near Rome.
The friendly match is organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture. It's aimed at fighting any type of discrimination, racism and marginalization, organizers said.
On Saturday morning, the pontiff will meet members of the two teams during a hearing.
At the presentation of the initiative on Tuesday (November 16) organizers showed a yellow and white jersey of the 'All Brothers' squad with the number 1 and the name Francis, which will be donated to the pope.
Swiss guards, priests and migrants in pope's team
The project -- called "Un calcio all'esclusione", a kick against exclusion -- is organized by the Diocese of Rome to support the inclusion of Roma families and youths in sports, education, housing and the labor market.
The pope's team reportedly includes Swiss guards, Vatican employees, the children of employees, priests, three migrants hosted by the Sant'Egidio Community, and a boy with Down syndrome of the Special Olympics.
Coaches will include former champions like Marco Tardelli and Odoacre Chierico (Lazio's coach Maurizio Sarri will instead be sitting on the bench of the Roma team) while the referee will be Lazio's captain Ciro Immobile.
Lazio: 'initiative against discrimination, Roma vilified ethnic group'
Representatives of the World Roma Organization, who were attending remotely from Zagreb, spoke about an "historic match" and described organizers and participants as "our ambassadors", "our angels". Lazio president Claudio Lotito said he strongly believes in the importance of the initiative to "overcome social, economic and racial barriers".
"We live in a society of barriers that must be replaced by dialogue and integration," he said. Lotito added that soccer can teach youths to "respect human dignity and equal dignity for all, as well as raise more awareness in the public opinion on these themes."
According to Lotito, "the pandemic has also aggravated processes of discrimination, also towards Roma people, a vilified and discriminated ethnic group. But everyone needs to have the same dignity and the same opportunities". The match, he said, sends a message of hope to help "people to overcome a situation of difficulty they did not want."