L’Osservatore Romano published an article last week titled, “When Ratzinger wrote about soccer,” focusing on the reflection the former cardinal and present-day Pontiff included in a 1985 book titled, “Suchen was droben ist” (Seek That Which Is Above).
In his reflection, then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that “the World Cup, occurring every four years, is an event that captivates hundreds of millions of people.”
“The fascination with soccer,” he continued, “lies essentially in that it forces man to discipline himself, such that through training, he acquires dominion over himself. Through dominion, he achieves superiority. And through superiority, freedom.”
Soccer, he explained, teaches the person the value of “disciplined cooperation” and demands an ordering of the individual within the group. “It unites through a common objective; the success or failure of each individual is tied to the success or failure of the group.”
Soccer teaches us to play a fair game in which the common rules of play are the source of what binds and unites all players, even if when they face each other as adversaries, then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote.
“If we look deeper, the phenomenon of a world excited over soccer can provide us with more than mere entertainment,” he said in conclusion.