World Cup 2014: Pope Francis and predecessor Benedict won't be watching Argentina and Germany face off in the final

... and he's said he won't even pray for a South American victory
  • @James_Legge

In the most shocking World Cup news since about two days ago, the world's most famous Argentine probably won't be watching his footballing compatriots play in the final this Sunday.

The Vatican has said it is unlikely Pope Francis will tune in to watch Messi, Mascherano et al, because the kick-off time comes a little late for the 77-year-old's usual routine.

What with an impressive-looking Germany - birthplace of the Pope's predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI - providing the opposition in Rio de Janeiro, the stage might have seemed set for a papal football knees-up-cum-face-off. But on Thursday Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters with a chuckle that Benedict wasn't known as an avid sports fan.

Still, he didn't rule anything out, saying, "we'll see in the coming days."

Pope Francis has already given his word that there would be no papal intervention in Argentina's fortunes, promising he wouldn't pray for any team. German-born Benedict's interests are known to lean more toward intellectual than athletic pursuits.

Lombardi said ''both would want the better team to win, without taking sides."