The Italian Almanac

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cardinal Bertone commenting a soccer game

Italian News - December 19

The Vatican may be the world's smallest state, but it is thinking of mustering a soccer team that could compete with the world's best, according to Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone. "I don't rule out that in the future the Vatican could form a top soccer team of the level of Inter, Roma," and other Serie A sides, Bertone was reported as saying in the Italian media.

The number two to Pope Benedict, a well-known soccer fan, recently said the Holy See could form "a magnificent team" by drawing on the hundreds of Brazilian students at its pontifical universities around the world. He used to commentate on the matches of Genoa and Sampdoria for a local TV station when he was archbishop of Genova, where both teams are based.

Bertone is not the only soccer crazy cardinal. His colleague Fiorenzo Angelini is an ardent AC Roma fan and often commentates on Serie A matches for Vatican radio.

The Vatican, covering less than 0.5 square kilometers (0.1931 square miles), may struggle against the soccer elite, but it could prove a handful for similarly tiny San Marino and Andorra, who have competed for years in international soccer, losing nearly every game. San Marino, a fellow micro-state inside Italy's borders, lost 13-0 to Germany in September.