Although the Vatican is one of the few countries that is not part of FIFA, for more than 500 years the smallest country in the world has been home to a great soccer tradition and even has an annual “world cup”!
The workers of the Holy See integrate eight amateur clubsin addition to a men’s and women’s team. The clubs participate in a league, a Cup tournament and, since 2007, the winners of both dispute a “Super Cup”.
The name of the teams are: Vatican Museums, Swiss Guard, DirTel Team (Vatican Telecommunications), Pontifical Lateran University, Secret Archive, Dirseco, Fortitudo 2007 and Rappresentativa OPBG (of the Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital).
All football matches are played outside the Vatican territory, since it is barely 44 hectares in size and almost all of the space is occupied by buildings, some of them large, such as St. Peter’s Basilica.
The selection of the Pope and the “world” of the Vatican
The official FIFA website reports that the “Vatican Football Federation” was founded in 1972, and that it has a men’s and women’s team. The first official match for the men’s team was played in 1994, while the women’s team was created in 2019 thanks to the support of Pope Francis. The matches have been played against other world teams.
The coach of both teams is the Italian Gianfranco Guadagnoli, and the national team’s uniform is yellow and white.
Regarding the Vatican soccer “world cup”, this is a religious world cup called “Clericus Cup”. 16 teams from seminaries and ecclesiastical colleges in Rome with members from various countries participate in the tournament.
History of football in the Vatican
FIFA details that the Vatican football tradition was born on January 7, 1521, when the then Papal States “hosted the celebration of a Calcio Fiorentino match – a primitive sport that is still played today in Italy and from which football and soccer come.” current rugby – under the watchful eye of Pope Leo X”.
“Shortly after World War II, modern soccer would arrive in the small country, and in 1947 the first tournament was played: a home run between teams of workers from the Holy See that was left without a champion when it was suspended due to a fight between players and the public. ”, he indicates.
In the 1960s, the first club of the Holy See was founded, formed by the workers of the Vatican Museums, and in 1972 the first league was held, in which 7 teams participated.