The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Pope endorses Sept. 1 interreligious peace match at the Olympic Stadium in Rome

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis is backing an interreligious soccer match that will gather greats from around the globe and is aimed at promoting peace and raising money for at-risk kids.

Former Argentina great Javier Zanetti, who spent 19 seasons with Inter before retiring, said the idea for the Sept. 1 match at the Olympic Stadium in Rome arose during an audience he had with Francis last year.

At a press conference Monday, Zanetti said: "The most important thing isn't the match, but the message of peace that the pope wants to give the world."

Argentina coach Gerardo Martino and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will put together teams featuring Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist players. Among those who have signed up: Lionel Messi, Filippo Inzaghi, Samuel Eto'o.

Francis isn't expected to attend.

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