Maradona’s quote after Pope’s inter-religious peace match is priceless


Pope Francis is a big soccer fan. He’s also a pretty big deal, so when the Argentine-born Roman Catholic leader issued a call for an inter-religious soccer match for peace, the big names came out.

One of those big names is Diego Maradona — pictured inset, arguing with a referee at said charity match — who is among the best players to ever step onto a soccer pitch but also a controversial figure who described his handled goal that beat England as the “Hand of God”.

So, the players were in place — both theatrically and athletically — for a classic Maradona moment, and the 53-year-old obliged slightly after his side, Scholas Occurrentes, fell to Javier Zanetti’s side by a 6-3 score.

From the Associated Press:

“Today two powers were brought together, the hand of God and that of the Pope,” Maradona said. “Pope Francis is much more than Maradona. He is the real outstanding star. … I grew apart from the church because I thought it wasn’t doing enough for the needy, but with Francis it’s different.”

Pupi got back into the match with a penalty from former AC Milan great Andriy Shevchenko, who doubled his tally late on.

Tomer Hemed netted the equalizer and Mauro Icardi scored a hat trick.

Martino and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger put together teams featuring Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist players. The star-studded lineups included past and present players such as Carlos Valderrama , Diego Simeone, Alessandro Del Piero and Gianluigi Buffon.

For his part, Pope Francis explained his desire for the event in a pregame meeting with the players:

“I thank you because you immediately adhered to my desire to see champions and coaches from various countries and different religions facing each other in a sporting match, to demonstrate fraternity and friendship,” Francis said in his audience with the players.

“Tonight’s match will certainly be an occasion to collect funds and support, but above all to reflect on the universal values which football and sport in general can promote: loyalty, sharing, welcoming, dialogue, trust in the other. It’s about values which joins every person regardless of race, culture and religious belief.”

Tata Martino and Arsene Wenger were the managers, and “put together teams featuring Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist players. The star-studded lineups included past and present players such as Carlos Valderrama , Diego Simeone, Alessandro Del Piero and Gianluigi Buffon. Paolo Maldini, Samuel Eto’o and Andrea Pirlo were on the bench but did not play.”

In “pretty good listener” Klopp, Liverpool has breath of fresh air

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FC
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In some ways, all managers are the same: intelligent football men messing around with the puzzle that is winning matches.

But to listen to Jurgen Klopp’s introductory press conference is to get a different view. While some managers sound like they create the puzzles, or even create the game itself, Klopp speaks of the challenge with reverence.

[ MORE: Klopp unveiled as “the Normal One” ]

In other words, it seems unlikely we will be hearing him utter phrases designed at painting himself as a Picasso of the pitch, rather that of a museum curator.

For example, here’s the new Liverpool boss on the club’s history.

From JPW on Merseyside:

“Twenty-five years ago [since the last league title] is a long time,” Klopp said. “History is only the base for us, [we shouldn’t] keep the history in our backpack all day. I want to see the first step next week and not always compare with other times. This is a great club with big potential. Everything is there. Let’s try to start a new way. Everything is different – I don’t know it all but I’m a pretty good listener.”

The “normal one” speaks like an honor student, not the know-it-all professor demanding students regurgitate facts from the book he wrote and tossed on the syllabus.

And perhaps this is the manner in which the Reds will add a new, positive chapter to their storied history.

Kreis, Schmid dismiss Messing’s job switch comments

Sigi Schmid
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Broadcaster and New York soccer hero Shep Messing caused quite a stir with his comments during the Red Bulls/Impact match on Wednesday, and those words have cause plenty of reaction in MLS.

If you missed it, Messing claims that New York City FC is ready to move on from Jason Kreis after just one season, and that Seattle coach Sigi Schmid is set to swap jobs with the NYC boss.

Messing also claims that Caleb Porter could end his disappointing run in Portland to head back to college soccer.

Kreis and Schmid disagree. The latter says he loves the Sounders and is committed to bringing an MLS Cup to Seattle. Kreis was just flabbergasted.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“I was watching the game last night, and it caught me completely by surprise. I thought that was an absolutely ludicrous statement and unfounded,” Kreis said after training Thursday. “I have no knowledge of that information at all, and I kind of scratch my head because at the end of the day I’m very happy here.”

So is there any truth here? The Porter part makes sense, especially if the Timbers fail to make the postseason again and the brash coach wishes to go back to a place where he’s had success.

As for Schmid and Kreis, that’s a curious one. Maybe NYC’s star studded roster would like a change, and Schmid has more success with big egos. And Kreis would thrive just about anywhere, but why would NYC ditch a man who built this from scratch? They’ve invested so much in the ex-RSL legend.