The Vatican secretary of state was just kidding when he said the Holy See might one day have a football team to rival the top formations in Italy's powerful Serie A, a report has said
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone created a buzz on Sunday when he told reporters: "I do not preclude the possibility that the Vatican, in the future, could put together a football team of great value, that could play on the same level as Roma, Inter Milan and Sampdoria," all first division teams.
But on Monday Bertone, Pope Benedict XVI's righthand man, ate his words. "After a joke, ... everyone started hypothesizing about a great Vatican football team," I-media reported.
"I don't think it's possible, so let's stop fantasizing," he told the Vatican-watching news agency.
Italian media seized on the subject, contacting the head of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), William Gaillard, in Brussels.
"Why not?" he said. "We already have San Marino, Liechtenstein and Andorra."
The idea also got the backing of Portugal's Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, a self-described football fan who heads the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints which considers candidates for sainthood.
"It's a very interesting and fascinating possibility. Sports is a school of values. The Vatican is always open to cultivating human values -- including healthy rivalry, the culture of victory and defeat," he told daily Portuguese newspaper 24Horas.
Bertone backed away from his remarks when approached by reporters at a football game between the Vatican's Swiss Guards and a team made up of Vatican museum and publishing employees.
The Vatican does have a "state" team belonging to the New Federation Board of teams not recognized by FIFA. Its players wear a yellow jersey with white sleeves.