FIFA president Sepp Blatter (left) presents Pope Francis with a customized jersey and has a laugh at the Vatican. (ANSA/Osservatore Romano/EPA)
Say what you want about Sepp Blatter -- most have, and most will continue to do so -- but the FIFA president has some clout.
Blatter took in a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday (pictured above), presenting him with a customized No. 10 soccer jersey. The full details of their conversation are unknown, but the Associated Press was on hand to procure some of the encounter.
From the AP's account:
"We spoke the same language and it was language of football,'' Blatter said. ''It was really a meeting between two sportsmen and two football fans.''
Blatter said he responded to the pope's request for FIFA to help the favelas, or slums, of Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 World Cup, with a promise to "do what we can.''
"We cannot do everything,'' Blatter said.
An Argentine and a noted soccer enthusiast, Pope Francis is a supporter of Buenos Aires club San Lorenzo, and his soccer memorabilia collection is growing. He met with the likes of Lionel Messi and Mario Balotelli while welcoming the Argentina and Italy national teams prior to an August friendly between the two powers.
Messi presented him with a plant of some sort, while Gianluigi Buffon went the more conventional route with a signed ball.