Pope Francis: Calling Messi God is blasphemous

Elena Summers
April 3, 2019

Lionel Messi was named among the substitutes for Barcelona's LaLiga trip to Villarreal on Tuesday.

On Monday, Pope Francis was reported in Spanish-language media as proclaiming that to refer to Argentine football icon Messi - regularly touted as the best to ever play the game - as "God" was technically "sacrilege", and that he believed the phrase should in fact be altered to include clear references to his huge footballing ability being "godlike".

The 31-year-old is arguably the greatest baller of all times, but Pope Francis told La Sexta that "In theory, it s sacrilege. Do you believe you can?" he said in an interview with Salvados.

The pontiff said of his compatriot: "People can say he is God, just as they may say "I adore you" but only God can be worshiped".

Messi and his worldwide team-mates also sent a signed shirt to Pope Francis on the back of their display at the 2014 World Cup which saw them finish as runners-up to Germany. "This is a God with the ball on the field" is a popular way for someone to express themselves".

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"Of course, it is a joy [to watch Messi play]".

The Pope has previously admitted to being a football fan and follows Argentine top-flight side San Lorenzo de Almagro.

Espanyol captain Victor Sanchez committed the foul on Messi that prompted the set-piece and then, in an apparent attempt to outwit the Argentina global, retreated to his goal line and inadvertently directed the ball past goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

Lionel Messi scored both goals in Barcelona's win over Espanyol.

The forward, who had been an injury doubt for the game, then turned in a cross from substitute Malcom to seal victory after 89 minutes.

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