Italian priest calls on athletes to stop blaspheming
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.- Father Nicoló Anselmi, director of Youth Ministry for the Bishops’ Conference of Italy, has called on professional soccer players looked up to by thousands of young people to stop blaspheming during games.

“Players, please, stop blaspheming when something goes wrong on the field.  You are offending and irritating us instead of making us have fun,” Father Anselmi said after news programs repeatedly showed a famous player clearly utter a blasphemy during a game on Saturday after a call by the referee in favor of the other team.

Recently the Italian soccer teams agreed to promote “fair play” on the field and to add what they call the “third half,” during which players shake hands after the final whistle.

Father Anselmi said, however, that the effort to improve the atmosphere on the field should include asking the players to stop blaspheming, a practice that has become increasingly more commonplace.

He pointed out that many young people, following the example of players, also blaspheme “and they justify themselves by saying they are not doing it to offend God or the Virgin, but rather they do it without considering the consequences because ‘everybody does it’.”

“Blasphemy,” the priest explained, “not only offends God, who loves always and loves blasphemers also, it also hurts believers.  He who blasphemes offends a concrete person.”

Father Anselmi proposed that fans establish an award not only for soccer but for other sports as well, such as basketball, volleyball and water polo, in which “the most sportsman-like, the most polite and the most altruistic player” is recognized.  “This is also a means of proclaiming the teaching of Jesus,” he said in conclusion.

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