Let us pray.
Congregation numbers may be falling across the numerous denominations, but in football it looks unlikely that praying will ever go out of fashion.
We often talk about the gods of football (or of fate) and their abilities to affect a fixture in our favour during times of illogical desperation. For many though, such forces have a direct impact and affect on their team and chances.
Even with a sober mind, the game has a way of bringing out a desire for faith in small details and mini rituals, both for fans in their lucky underwear and players in their pre-match habits.
Such are the margins of victory, and the superhuman feats of athleticism and skill required to score the most vital of goals or to stop them, football is prone to appearing rather miraculous.
And when those shots and chances just aren’t coming off, it’s usually a coming together of the hands in silent observance of what went wrong that follows, even for the none religious.
The clasping of hands together in a praying motion is a natural bit of human body language, whether it’s learned through social habits or based on some quirk of bio-mechanical comfort or ease.
Yet whatever the reason for it, whether it is a request to the almighty or merely a physical tick at times of hard luck, the pray action only feeds into the image of football as religion.
Here at Offside, we’re not short of images of players praying at times of difficulty and pressure, and some of our favourites are included in this very post.
In the last week however, Bayern Munich went to visit Pope Francis, the San Lorenzo-supporting football Pope, and our friends at Witters were able to capture the moment in pictures.
Funnily enough, Pope Francis was one of the most visible mascots of the Argentinian fans during the World Cup. Perhaps it may have been slightly awkward for the Primate to greet so many of the German players who downed his beloved Albiceleste in the final.
If it was, he didn’t show it. Not in the pictures we have at least.
The Pope has also been spotted at Premier League grounds over the years, though not the actual leader of the Catholic Church mind, but imitators looking to riff on the Vatican for an away day costume.
Often, the final away game of the season, or a festive fixture, is selected by supporters as a sort of fun day in which to throw on an outfit to cause a few laughs and ruffle some sensibilities.
A penny for the thoughts of Pope Francis and his aides on this copycat and his associate in the away section for Newcastle United against Wigan Athletic at the JW Stadium in 2013.
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