Vatican City national football team
|Association||Vatican Amateur Sports Association|
|Head coach||Gianfranco Guadagnoli|
|Top scorer||Alessandro Quarto (1)|
|Home stadium||Campo Pio XI|
|Current||220 (22 October 2020)|
| Vatican City 0–0 San Marino B |
(Rome, Italy; 1994)
The Vatican City national football team (Italian: Selezione di calcio della Città del Vaticano) is the football team that represents Vatican City under the control of the Vatican Amateur Sports Association, headquartered in the Vatican's Cortile di San Damaso. The Vatican City football association was founded in 1972. Its current president is Domenico Ruggerio. Gianfranco Guadagnoli, an Italian, is the current head coach. The team has been managed by Giovanni Trapattoni in the past. His first match as manager was played on 23 October 2010 when Vatican City faced a team composed of Italian financial police. The team played its first match in 1985, a 3–0 victory against a representative of Austrian journalists. In 2018, the Vatican also created a women's representative team.
In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II established a Vatican sports department with the aim of "reinvigorating the tradition (of sport) within the Christian community". In 2006, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone suggested that the Vatican could field a team of men from Catholic seminaries. About the prospect, the cardinal stated, "If we just take the Brazilian students from our Pontifical universities we could have a magnificent squad." The cardinal also noted that in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, there were 42 players in the final round who attended Salesian training centres worldwide. For example, Marcelino, Spanish hero of the 1964 European Nations' Cup was a former seminarian. It was Bertone's proposal that the Vatican's players, even if accepted by UEFA, would be drawn from the population within the Catholic Church worldwide, not just citizens of Vatican City. He was unclear at the time whether the Vatican would grant these players Vatican citizenship to make this possible.
With the smallest population of any nation, approximately 900, it is difficult to form a squad. The Vatican City squad consists entirely of employees of the Vatican: police officers, postal workers, government officials and members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, the Vatican's de facto army, charged with protecting the pope. Since most Vatican citizens are members of the Swiss Guard, they cannot be amassed in large numbers for a long time. Therefore, the national team has played only a few rare international matches, often drawing a fair amount of interested press. When Vatican City played its first match in 2002, only one player, Marcello Rosati, had a Vatican passport. In 2010, Vatican City was invited to participate in the Viva World Cup by the N.F.-Board and were expected to participate but were unable to do so because they could not assemble a 15-man roster. In total, Vatican City have played only four full international matches against other nations, one draw and three defeats to Monaco in 2002, 2011, 2013, and 2014 respectively.
In addition to its full international matches, the team has played a friendly match, its first, against the San Marino reserve team in 1994. The final score of that match is believed to be a 0–0 draw but Steve Menary's book 'Outcasts: The Lands that FIFA Forgot' states that Vatican insiders told him that the match ended 1–1. In 2010, the Vatican organized a team to play a friendly game against Palestine. However, the team was made up of Catholic priests and was not considered the Vatican City national team. In 2006, the Vatican City played SV Vollmond, a team from Switzerland, at Stadio Petriana with Vatican City prevailing 5–1. The team has also competed against a representative team from the Diocese of Limburg. In September 2016 the team participated in a triangular tournament at the Manlio Scopigno Stadium in Rieti to raise funds for earthquake victims. Former Italian international Simone Perrotta also participated in the tournament.
In April 2019 it was announced that the team had signed its first-ever sponsor, Poderi di San Pietro, a family-owned winery in Milan. The agreement was reached after ensuring that the organization met the strict ethical criteria established by the team. Previously, the Association was approached by a sports betting organization offering a very large sponsorship but was rejected for not aligning with those ethical standards.
The Vatican's stance on football
Vatican footballing history began on 7 January 1521 when the first match of Calcio Fiorentino was played in the Vatican in the Cortile del Belvedere, in the presence of Pope Leo X. The first Vatican league was created in 1973 and was first won by employees of L'Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of the Holy See.
The Vatican has typically expressed strong support for football. Pope John Paul II was reportedly a goalkeeper in his youth in Poland, and an ardent supporter of Cracovia Kraków. The former German pope Pope Benedict XVI is an ardent supporter of Bayern Munich since his youth growing up in Bavaria, Germany. Benedict is quoted as saying, "The sport of football can be a vehicle of education for the values of honesty, solidarity and fraternity, especially for the younger generation." In October 2007, the Pope was presented with a #16 shirt (in reference to the sixteenth use of his papal name) by Serie B side Ancona after Benedict supported their initiative to become a "beacon of morality" by adopting an "innovative, ethical model of practising football".
In 2010, Benedict and the Vatican reaffirmed their belief that football should be a beacon of morality by lashing out at Serie A after matches for the upcoming season were scheduled at 12:30pm on Sundays to appease pay-per-view companies wishing to spread out Serie A matches over the weekend. The Vatican previously questioned the league's decision to play matches on Sundays at all, but "I consider this a truly harmful development," Monsignor Carlo Mazza told Tuttosport. "Putting people in front of the television screen at 12.30 CET, when they are having lunch with their families, to me seems like a 'pitch invasion' on life." Additionally, on 18 December 2006, Tarcisio Bertone, Cardinal Secretary of State of the Holy See, stated, but only in jest, that he did 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, Internazionale and Milan or Genoa. The current Argentinian pope, Pope Francis is an ardent fan of his hometown club San Lorenzo, and exhibited disappointment when Argentina lost the 2014 World Cup final against Germany.
The Vatican is one of only nine fully recognized sovereign states whose national team is not a FIFA member. The others are the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Monaco, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom (though the UK's four "home countries" (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) have individual FIFA teams each of which is also a member of the IFAB).
In 2006 UEFA spokesperson William Gaillard told a media outlet that he saw no reason why the Vatican should not have a national team in international competitions. He said, "We already have states of 30,000 citizens like San Marino, Liechtenstein, and Andorra. If the Vatican wants to become a member of UEFA all it has to do is apply. If it meets the requirements, it will be accepted". At that time Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone insisted that the Vatican's football future lies only in amateur games and competitions.
In May 2014, Domenico Ruggerio, president of the national football association, reinforced Bertone's words from eight years prior, stating that "I prefer to be amateur...To join FIFA, at that level, will be like a business" after stating "The important message of friendship and love is demonstrated by the sport — the real sport, not the business that is in football these days...It is not just important to win a match; it is how you carry yourself." Therefore, that, he added, meant that "the ethos of the Vatican’s soccer team was, at odds with FIFA membership."
In an April 2019 interview Danilo Zennaro, football director of the Vatican, told the St. Galler Tagblatt that the association would also not seek membership in an alternate confederation like ConIFA because of "political reasons" such as the diplomatic strife that would ensue from being in the same organization as breakaway regions and disputed territories.
The team's current kit is provided by Sportika SA. The current kit has an image of Saint Peter's Basilica ghosted on the front. In the past, the kit has been provided by Diadora. The shorts are all white while the top is solid yellow with a narrow blue and white line around the right upper quadrant of the body.
Win Draw Loss
|7 May 2011||Vatican City||1–2||Monaco||Albano Laziale, Italy|
|Alessandro Quarto||Report||Stadium: Stadio Pio XII|
|22 June 2013||Monaco||2–0||Vatican City||Cap-d'Ail, France|
|Morgan Escarras 9'
Eric Fissore 34'
|Report||Stadium: Stade des Moneghetti|
|16 June 2018||FC Azzurri Schaan||8–1||Vatican City||Schaan, Liechtenstein|
|Marc Walser 28'
Roger Züger 33'
Herbert Bicker 42', 51', 55' (Pen), 58', 68'
Massimo Condito 65'
|Report||Marco Pouti 2'||Stadium: Sportanlage Rheinwiese|
|7 November 2016||Fondazione Ospedale San Matteo||2–1||Vatican City||Pavia, Italy|
|Report||Stadium: Stadio Pietro Fortunati|
|17 June 2017||Lutherstadt Wittenberg||2–0||Vatican City||Wittenberg, Germany|
- Saverio Di Pofi
- Giovanni Trapattoni
- Gianfranco Guadagnoli
- Campionato della Città del Vaticano
- List of football clubs in Vatican City
- Index of Vatican City-related articles
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