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Pope Francis Holds Private Audience with Croatian National Football Team

Pope Francis welcomed the Croatian national football team and the Croatian Football Federation delegation in a private audience at the Vatican

In the Paul VI Hall in Vatican City, the Croatian national football team and the delegation of the Croatian Football Federation, led by President Marijan Kustić, were granted a private audience with Pope Francis.

Originally scheduled for last June but postponed due to the Pope’s sudden operation, the meeting finally took place yesterday. Pope Francis greeted the Croatian delegation warmly, saying:

“While you play football, you are a team and have the honour of representing your nation. This ‘being a team’ is an aspect of sport that I love to highlight because it mirrors social life, in various environments where people live and work together. Individual actions are important, imagination, creativity… But if individualism prevails, the overall dynamics are disrupted, and the goal is not achieved. Thank you for setting an example of how to be a team!”

President Kustić presented Pope Francis with a framed Croatian national team jersey, featuring the number one and the name Franjo on the back, along with a replica of the first ball used in Croatian football.

At the conclusion of the audience, Pope Francis offered some informal encouragement to the team, saying, “At the last World Cup, you were third, next time be first or second!”

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