Warsaw, Poland, Jun 8, 2012 / 14:59 pm
Pope Benedict XVI is urging those participating in soccer's 2012 European Championship to promote "noble human values" during the tournament which begins on June 8.
"I encourage all those involved to work to ensure that this event is experienced as an expression of the most noble human virtues and actions, in a spirit of peace and genuine joy," the Pope said in a message to the President of the Polish Bishops Conference, Archbishop Józef Michalik.
The month-long competition will take place in Poland and the Ukraine June 8 to July 1. It features the top 16 national sides in Europe, including the Pope's motherland of Germany and his adoptive nation of Italy. The tournament begins with an opening match in the Polish capital of Warsaw between the host nation and Greece, the 2004 champions.
The Pope's comments come amidst fears that the tournament could be dogged by racist abuse aimed at black soccer players.