03.30.05

England Prevails, The Pope’s Footie Faves

Posted in Football at 4:49 pm by

One goal created, another scored by the embattled David Beckham, as England won their 2nd World Cup qualifier in 4 days, beating Azerbaijan 2-0 at St. James Park. This result, however pales on the shocker scale compared to Israel’s deadlock with France. Said match follows France’s scoreless draw with Switzerland over the weekend — Group 4 proving more difficult for Raymond Domench’s side than most would’ve predicted. You can watch a tape delayed telecast of the action from Tel Aviv starting at 5pm EST on the Fox Soccer Channel.


(Israel’s Walid Badir letting uncomfortable tourist Fabien Barthez know that not only is the matched tied, but Linda Evangelista is really a man).

The U.S. National team will try to rebound from their weekend defeat in Mexico City with tonight’s WC qualifier against Guatemala, carried live on ESPN2 at 8pm eastern. Which may or may not beat the ratings for tomorrow night’s NIT final.

The Guardian’s Sean Ingle on Matt Taibbi’s best buddy, Pope John Paul, and the team(s) he supports.

“My flatmate and I were in the pub last week discussing the more unusual fans of our teams. In this discussion he claimed that the Pope supported his team: Fulham, and that in his younger days as a priest the Pope had actually attended a Fulham game. Is there any truth in this?” asks Brian Matthew Peers.

The Pope may only worship the one god, but he’s got flaky ties to at least three football teams – including Fulham.

According to local SW6 legend, John Paul II – who was a goalkeeper in his youth – stood on the terraces at Craven Cottage in the 1930s when he was studying as a priest in Roehampton. However, when the Daily Star reported this as fact (and cunningly doctored a photo of his holiness holding a Fulham scarf) they were reported to the Press Complaints Commission and forced to make a grovelling apology.

The story doesn’t end there, mind. In 1999, Ken Myers of the Fulham Independent Fanline phoned up the Vatican to ask about the rumours and later told the Sun: “I’d heard the Pope was a fan so, as it was Easter, I thought I’d give him a ring. I couldn’t believe it when I got through to his press spokesman. This guy even knew we were playing Wigan and was happy to talk about it.”

The Pope’s special envoy, Kieron Conroy, was a bit less forward, however. “The Pope wishes Fulham fans all the best,” he told Fleet Street’s finest. “He has written before hoping Fulham’s fortunes would be reversed and offers his support, such as he can give it.”

If that wasn’t inconclusive enough, the Pope also has been linked with Barcelona and Liverpool.

After performing mass at the Nou Camp in front of 120,000 people in November 1982, his holiness was presented with a lifelong Barca membership card – No.108,000 – from president Josep Lluís Núñez – however rumours that he is a season-ticker holder are wide of the mark.

Meanwhile, more recently, Jerzy Dudek returned from the Vatican with the revelation that the Pope was a big Liverpool fan. “I spoke to a couple of guys who are very close to the Pope and they told me that he is always watching our games and that he is always thinking of me when Liverpool play,” he told the club’s official website.

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