The World Cup and The Pope: Your Papal Guide to The World Cup

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Prior to this year’s World Cup, I filled out a bracket on MLS’s Brazil Bracket Challenge. I got some right and some wrong, however, I predicted the World Cup Final of Argentina and Germany. I cited devine intervention, and of course Lionel Messi, for Argentina’s advancement back to the final.

I figured with Pope Francis, an avid futbol fan, entering the his first World Cup in charge of the Catholic Church, what better selection? After doing the research, turns out it wasn’t such an educated, more one of faith and based on the like ability of Pope Francis.

Based on the birth nation of each reigning Pope in World Cup years, the nation in which the Pontiff was born, has only won the the World Cup twice, 1934 and 1938 (Italy).

In context, Pope Francis has already made history as he is only the third Pope who’s country reached a World Cup Final. The real question is, can Argentina become the second nation to hoist the coveted trophy and bring it back to Vatican City?

la-sp-sn-soccer-fan-pope-welcomes-italy-argent-001Clearly the man has a passion for soccer as he invited the national team to meet with him in Vatican City last August during a friendly with Italy. Argentinian captain Messi and Italian captain GiGi Bufon presented Pope Francis with a plant during the visit, as well custom jerseys for Francis.

A visual table of the papacy, their home nation and the corresponding World Cups are listed below.

It’s important to note that the first World Cup was played in 1930 and was halted after the 1938 World Cup with the outbreak of World War II so it resumed in 1950.

 Pope Reign Country Year (Host Nation): World Cup Finish

Pius XI

Pius XI

1922-39
(3 World Cups)

Italy

1930 (Uruguay): DNE
1934 (Italy): First place
1938 (France): First place

Pius XII

Pius XII

1939-58
(3 World Cups)

Italy

Italy

1950 (Brazil): Group stage
1954 (Switzerland): Group stage
1
958 (Sweden): DNQ

John XXIII

John XXIII

1958-63
(1 World Cup)

Italy

Italy

1962 (Chile): Group stage

Paolovi

Paul VI

1963-78
(4 World Cups)

Italy

Italy

1966 (England): Group stage
1970 (Mexico): Runner-up
1974 (West Germany): Group stage
1978 (Argentina): Fourth place

John Paul II

John Paul II

1978-2005
(6 World Cups)

Poland

Poland

1982 (Spain): Third place
1986 (Mexico): Round of 16
1990 (Italy): DNQ
1994 (United States): DNQ
1998 (France): DNQ
2002 (Japan/South Korea): Group Stage

Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI

2005-13
(2 World Cups)

Germany

Germany

2006 (Germany): Third place
2010 (South Africa): Third place

Francis

Francis

2013-Present
(1 World Cup)

Argentina

Argentina

2014 (Brazil): Runner-up
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