Pope Francis may be called upon to calm the waters at football derby
Games between rivals AS Roma and Lazio often prompt violent skirmishes
It is hoped that in the days before the big game Pope Francis will receive two delegations from Roma and Lazio in a papal audience. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters
Legend has it that St Francis could talk to the birds and tame wolves. His namesake Pope Francis, however, may shortly be faced with an equally difficult task.
Although this has not yet been confirmed by the Vatican, the newly elected Argentinian pope is to be called on to calm the atmosphere prior to the forthcoming Italian cup final derby clash on May 26th between AS Roma and Lazio, Rome’s two Serie A teams.
City rivalry is such that games between the two often prompt violent skirmishes both with police and rival fans.
Even when there is nothing at stake other than city pride, this is always a high risk encounter. This time however, the cup at stake, a trophy that grants the winner a place in next season’s Europa League.
It is hoped that in the days before the big game, the pope will receive two small (but equal-sized) delegations from Roma and Lazio in a papal audience.
A fan of the Buenos Aires side San Lorenzo, Pope Francis in the last two weeks has not only had a private audience with Argentine and Inter Milan star Javier Zanetti but was also presented with an autographed jersey of the Argentina and Barcelona ace Lionel Messi.
Not that this brought either man much luck in the meantime.
Messi has been knocked out of the Champions League, while Zanetti suffered a career-threatening injury last weekend.
Pope Francis will be hoping to do better with the Roma and Lazio fans.