Great Jubilee News

ROME WARMING UP FOR JUBILEE OF SPORTSMEN

ROME, (ZENIT.org).- During the Jubilee of Sportsmen John Paul II will be the first Pope in history to attend a soccer match.

The event, set for Oct. 28-29, will highlight values such as the spirit of loyalty, the expression of courage, and respect for opponents. Thousands of athletes from around the world will participate.

A key attraction will take place in the Olympic Stadium, when athletes render homage to the Pope.
Among the activities will be a 100-meter dash and a soccer game that will pit the Italian national team against a representation of foreign players who play in Italy's first division. The selection of champions from the "Rest of the World" will be made by Rome's and Latium's trainers, Fabio Capello and Sven Goran Eriksson, respectively.

This will be the second time John Paul II goes to the Olympic Stadium. The first was May 31, 1990, when the stadium was renovated for the World Cup soccer championships.

Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe, secretary of the Jubilee Central Committee, said that this is an event "that the Pope has looked forward to intensely, to embrace the world of sports and celebrate the Jubilee of Sportsmen.

"It is also an event to emphasize the importance of sport as an instrument of social cohesion.
Moreover, the Church has always followed sports activities, especially because of the values they express, such as honesty, fraternity, joy and sacrifice."

The calendar of the Italian Soccer League has been changed for the occasion: 1st Division will not play Oct. 29, but Nov. 1.

"Both the exhibition of the 100 meters, as well as the time reserved for the handicapped and the soccer game ... will express to the Holy Father the importance of sports as a time of joy, naturalness and gratitude," explained Franco Carraro, president of the soccer league.

During the exhibition, the Pope will be given the "Sports Manifesto for the Third Millennium," the document with which the international sports movement assumes the commitment to respect fundamental ethical values of sports activity.

"For the world of sport, the Jubilee dedicated to athletes represents a time of reflection, of stopping," said Gianni Petrucci, president of the Italian National Olympic Committee.

He added: "We are always busy with new enterprises, new objectives, new arguments, and there is never time for a pause, to really understand what the true values of sport are. This is why the Pope's presence in the Olympic Stadium will be the right occasion to experience a moment of reflection."

The program includes an international congress entitled "The Face and Soul of Sport at the Time of the Jubilee," to be held in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall on Oct. 28. Champions of the Sydney Olympics, and Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, will be among the participants.

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