September 19, 2014
Icardi hat-trick hands victory to 'Pupi' in Match for Peace
Javier Zanetti's Pupi Foundation team came out victors in a special Match for Peace organised by Pope Francis, winning 6-3 thanks to three goals from young Argentine star Mauro Icardi.
The Inter striker made the difference in the second half, netting a hat-trick as his young legs, compared to the 53-year-old Diego Maradona on the opposing Scholus team, made the difference in the friendly match, held in Rome's Olympic Stadium.
But the biggest cheers throughout the clash were for Diego, who rolled back the years with a delightful pass in the first half that set up Roberto Baggio for Scholus' second goal of the evening.
About 50 football stars and historical legends are expected to feature today at the Olympic Stadium in Rome for an inter-religious exhibition match organized upon Pope Francis’ request, that seeks to promote world peace and understanding.
The match, organised by request of the pontiff, kicked off at 4pm Argentine time and was preceded by the planting of an olive tree on the Olympic pitch, a symbol of peace that has been used in local football since Francis took over the Holy See.
Francis earlier welcomed some of the players who have arrived in Rome, among them, Argentine soccer icon Maradona, who gave the pontiff a shirt signed "To Francisquito". Catholic, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Shinto players all played a part in the friendly clash.
The game is part of Francis’ calls for “dialogue” in times of religiously motivated wars seem to spread in the world.
“This is a new call for peace from the Pope,” former Argentine player Zanetti, one the key organizers of the match, said. The idea of the game came up in April 2013 in a private audience he had with Francis.