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'What joy,' says pope after favourite team's soccer win

San Lorenzo's win in Argentina brings great happiness to pontiff

16 December, 16:37
'What joy,' says pope after favourite team's soccer win (ANSA) - Vatican City, December 16 - "What joy," Pope Francis exclaimed Monday after hearing the news that his favourite soccer team, San Lorenzo, clinched the Argentine league title.

The team's 0-0 draw at Velez Sarsfield enabled the Buenos Aires team to seal the Inicial championship and has been described as an early birthday present for the pope, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, who turns 77 on Tuesday.

Francis heard the news early Monday morning. Meanwhile, San Lorenzo club officials say they want to travel to meet the pope and dedicate the victory to Francis.

"We are organizing an audience with Francis," said the club's vice-president Marcelo Tinelli.

Sunday's win was San Lorenzo's 12th league title in the professional era and first since the 2007.

Unlike European leagues, the Argentine season is split between two championships - the Inicial (former Apertura) played in the second half of the year, starting in August, and the Final (ex-Clausura) in the first half of the following year. Francis, an avid soccer fan, has not only remained loyal to his club, but is faithful in his membership dues payments, paying "religiously", Tinelli said earlier this year.

Some fans have said it is no coincidence that the team's form has been strong since Francis was elected to the helm of the Catholic Church in March.

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