Pope blesses soccer referees

Vatican City — They may be flashpoints on the field but Italy’s soccer referees received blessings from Pope John Paul, a former player, when they appeared at the pontiff’s general audience Wednesday.

Referees from Serie A and Italy’s second division, including top international ref Pierluigi Collina, sat in the front row of the audience in St. Peter’s Square, then joined John Paul for a photo.

The 83-year-old Pope, a goalkeeper during his youth in Poland, told them that sport must be “inspired by ethical and spiritual values.”

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