The pope noted that in Croatia there are sports initiatives aimed at inclusion for Roma, which he praised for facilitating “reciprocal acquaintance and friendship.” He also expressed hope that the dream of children, who “have the right to grow up together,” isn't shattered by discriminatory barriers.
Francis wished the game participants well.
“It doesn’t matter who will score the most goals, because the decisive goal you’ll score together, the goal that makes hope win and gives a kick to exclusion," Francis said.
Among the players will be three migrants who arrived in Italy after living in a refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, and are now being aided by a Roman Catholic charity. The pope visited Lesbos in 2016 and brought a dozen Syrian Muslims back with him aboard his return flight to Rome. The pontiff will return to Lesbos during travels early next month.