VATICAN CITY — Seminarians at the Pontifical North American College will be vying for the Clericus Cup “triple crown,” well, “saturno” to be exact, since that’s what the trophy ball is wearing on its head (with a pair of cleats).
The PNAC Martyrs have become a soccer powerhouse after years of hard work and training.
It also helps having the most colorful and “heroic” fan base in the whole tournament with Captain America, Spiderman and a giant fuzzy yellow chicken cheering from the stands.
The news about this year’s soccer tourney, which features priests and seminarians from all over the world who are studying in Rome, is each team jersey will have “My captain is Pope Francis” printed on it.
Fr. Alessio Albertini, one of the series’ organizers said:
“The job of a captain is to lead the team, to be a point of reference during difficult moments, to encourage the disheartened players, to be a symbol and who better embodies this in the great playing field of the world than Pope Francis?”
The series started eight years ago and boasts a few technical differences from regular league soccer.
Aside from players and fans having lots more spirit, Clericus Cup soccer games run 30-minute halves instead of 45-minute halves.
Referees also have another penalty option. In addition to the yellow warning card and the red expulsion card, they can flash a “sin bin” blue card, which requires an overly aggressive player to leave the field for five minutes … presumably to pray for more patience.