Official Clericus Cup Logo
|Number of teams||16|
|Current champions||Collegio Urbano|
|Most successful club(s)||Redemptoris Mater
|8th Season (completed)|
The Clericus Cup is an annual association football tournament contested by teams from the Roman Colleges, which are seminaries of the Catholic Church located in Rome. During the fourth season (2010), the tournament involved sixteen schools and fielded players from 65 countries, with the majority coming from Brazil, Italy, Mexico, and the United States of America. The players are normally seminarians studying to be Roman Catholic priests. A handful of players are ordained priests. The annual tournament is organized by the Centro Sportivo Italiano (CSI). The league was founded in 2007, and matches for the seventh season will begin in early 2013.
Officially, the goal of the league is to "reinvigorate the tradition of sport in the Christian community" and has been called the "clerical equivalent of soccer’s World Cup." In other words, it exists to provide a venue for friendly athletic competition among the thousands of seminarians, representing nearly a hundred countries, who study in Rome. The league is the brainchild of the Cardinal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, who is an unapologetic football fan. While some press outlets hinted that the Church hoped to offer a brand of football free of football hooliganism, the reality is that play on the field is intensely competitive. The teams that regularly contend for the eight play-off spots are, on the field, fierce rivals.
This competition had its beginnings in 2003 when Jim Mulligan, a seminarian at the Pontifical Beda College, founded a knockout tournament involving eight international teams from the Rome Seminary Colleges. This competition was then called THE ROME CUP. The first match in the competition took place in May 2003 between the Pontifical Beda College and The Venerable English College. (It was won 5 - 2 by the English College.) Fr Jim Mulligan is now a priest in the Archdiocese of Westminster, London and continues his sporting activities carrying out sponsored abseils and parachute jumps to raise money for various Church projects.
The 2009 season drew 16 teams, representing 15 international seminaries, plus the Gregorian University. The league is divided into two sides or divisions: Division A and Division B. In 2009, Division A included four national seminaries (The Pontifical North American College, The Brazilian College, The French College, The Polish Institute) and two international colleges (San Paolo and Mater Ecclesiae). The Italian College of Sant'Anselmo, and the multinational Gregorian University rounded out Division A.
Division B included the Mexican College, The Pontifical Roman Seminary, the Urbanianum (which fields players primarily from Africa and East Asia), as well as the religious institutes Augustinianum, Sedes Sapientiae, Redemptoris Mater, and Guanelliani Internazionale (The Servants of Charity). Two schools, Almo Collegio Capranica and Pio Latino merged to field the team Almo-Pio.
The first season was played from February to May 2007. The second season began in November in of 2007 and finished on May 3, 2008. The regular season games were played at Oratorio San Pietro, on the Via di Santa Maria Mediatrice, 24. The third season was played from February to May 2009 with Redemptoris Mater winning the championship against the Pontifical North American College. The fourth season was played from February to May 2010 with the championship game again consisting of Redemptoris Mater against the Pontifical North American College. Redemptoris Mater won the championship game, 1–0, against the North American College, the same score as in 2009. The fifth season of the Clericus Cup will begin in February 2011.
During the second season, the inaugural and final match were held at the site of the 1960 Summer Olympics: the Stadio dei Marmi in Rome. In the third season, the opening game was officiated by one of Italy's top referees, Stefano Farina.
Despite the league's amateur status, it has attracted the attention of the professional football community. The president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) called the inauguration of Clericus Cup III (the 2009 season) "evidence of success" of the league. In 2009, the major Italian newspapers covered the league as a novelty - including Corriere della Sera, Il Giornale, Corriere dello Sport, and the anti-clerical La Repubblica. Newsweek's Russian edition reported favorably on the league, noting that many football players and fans "are believers." A video featuring a player from the Urbanium's team is available on the web. Voice of America reported on the North American College's road to the championship game in 2009.
In the first two seasons, international newspapers often focused on events peripheral to the game itself. During the Clericus Cup II season, several international newspapers found the hyper-enthusiasm of the fans newsworthy. Redemptoris Mater's club, in particular, generated a very noisy fan base. The Pontifical North American College also employed a megaphone that annoyed both opposing players and neighbors alike. This led the local government to pass an ordinance banning the use of tambourines, percussion instruments, and loud speakers during morning hours - when most of the league's games are played. The media coverage has increased the profile of the league, whose talent continues to improve each year.
The British press is fascinated by the Cup's use of a blue card, which British reporters labelled "the sin bin." Instead of the red and yellow cards, the blue card is a 5-minute bench penalty for unsportsmanlike play.
Championship results: 2007–2014
|Year||Final||Third Place Match|
|Winner||Score||Runner-up||3rd Place||Score||4th Place|
|2007||Redemptoris Mater||1–0||Pontifical Lateran University||Mater Ecclesiae||3–1||Sedes Sapientiae|
|2008||Mater Ecclesiae||2–1||Redemptoris Mater||UCro||2–1||Pontifical North American College|
|2009||Redemptoris Mater||1–0||Pontifical North American College||Mater Ecclesiae||2–0||Pontifical Urban University|
|2010||Redemptoris Mater||1–0||Pontifical North American College||Brazilian College||6–1||Guanelliani|
|2011||Pontifical Gregorian University||3–1||Angelicum||Sedes Sapientiae||2–1||Pontifical North American College|
|2012||Pontifical North American College||3–0||Pontifical Gregorian University||Sedes Sapientiae||0–0 (4–3, pk)||Mater Ecclesiae|
|2013||Pontifical North American College||1–0||Mater Ecclesiae||Redemptoris Mater||3–1||Collegio Urbano|
|2014||Collegio Urbano||1–0||Redemptoris Mater||Theological Institute of St. Peter||2–1||Sedes Sapientiae|
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- [http://www.clericuscup.it/Index.aspx? idmenu=3676 "2011 Classification"] (in Italian). Clericus Cup website. Retrieved 27 April 2012.