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New Pope fan of Argentina's San Lorenzo de Almagro; fond of Messi

Buenos Aires, March 14 (IANS): Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was elected the new Pope Francis 1 Wednesday, is an avid fan and “member” of the San Lorenzo de Almagro soccer team, one of the five most popular teams in his country.

That’s not all. The archbishop of Tarragona is also a huge fan and extremely ‘fond’ of compatriot and four-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 13:  Newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the 266th Pontiff and will lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.  (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the 266th Pontiff and will lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

In 2008, on the 100th anniversary of the club, team managers gave the then future pope, Cardinal Bergoglio, a membership card as San Lorenzo’s “centennial member” and invited him to say mass to celebrate the club’s anniversary, reports Xinhua.

The soccer club’s web site Wednesday posted a note headlined “Raven pope,” in reference to the nickname of the team’s fans (called ravens), along with a photograph of Bergoglio wearing San Lorenzo’s jersey.

Bergoglio, 76, was born in Buenos Aires and Wednesday became the first Latin American Pope in the history of the Catholic Church and the first from the Jesuit order.

The former cardinal was elected pope number 266 at the conclave held in the Sistine Chapel, beside St. Peter’s Basilica, in Vatican City. He succeeds Benedict XVI, who resigned his papacy Feb 28.

The Pope’s soccer team, San Lorenzo, was founded April 1, 1908, in the Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Almagro, where a group of youngsters gathered to play soccer at the corner of Mexico and Treinta y Tres Orientales streets.

The neighbourhood priest would let the youngsters play on part of the church land in exchange for participating in Sunday mass.

Later, the club moved to the Boedo neighbourhood, where they built the “Viejo Gasometro” stadium in 1916, which was demolished in 1983.

In 1993, after 14 years without a stadium, San Lorenzo inaugurated its “Pedro Bidegain” stadium, now in the Bajo Flores neighbourhood in southern Buenos Aires.

San Lorenzo de Almagro has won 10 national tournaments and two regional ones, the Mercosur Cup in 2001 and the South American Cup in 2002.

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