Lifestyle & Belief

Pope Francis warns Olympics officials against 'commercializing' athletes


Pope Francis waves after his general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on September 18, 2013.


Tiziana Fabi

Pope Francis had something to say on a topic rather different from his usual norm on Saturday: the commercialization of athletes and sport.

The pope greeted a large delegation of Olympic officials in Vatican City, the second of two days of sports-themed visitations for the pontiff. 

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To several hundred delegation members, he mused that sport in the modern era "is considered only in economic terms and consequently for victory at every cost ... it risks reducing athletes to mere trading material from whom profits are extracted," according to the Associated Press. 

The pontiff added that "sport is harmony but if money and success prevail as the aim this harmony crumbles."

On Friday, the pope met with the president of international soccer governing body FIFA, Sepp Blatter, the Italian and Argentinian rugby teams, and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. 

The pope waxed poetic about the value of a certain contact sport, according to the BBC, noting: "Rugby is like life because we are all heading for a goal. We need to run together and pass the ball from hand to hand until we get to it."