Like many parishes with sports clubs, the Vatican is proud of its soccer teams. Currently, there are eight teams in the Vatican City Champsionship, the tiny nation's soccer league, with amateur players drawn from Vatican institutions such as the Swiss Guards, museums, hospitals, and postal service. Occasionally, the best players come together to form the Vatican’s national team. Since they have challenging day jobs, with limited opportunities to practice, wins have been elusive. So far, the Vatican national soccer team has played only four official international games, all against Monaco. They played to a draw in 2002, and the Vatican lost in 2011, 2013, and 2014.
The papal pitch:
- Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world. Its soccer team is one of seven that are not FIFA members, along with Monaco, Palau, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia.
- Vatican City launched its first women’s soccer team in 2019. The team consists of female staff working at the Vatican, as well as employees’ wives and daughters.
- The Vatican also fields an intramural team that competes in the annual Clericus Cup, a competition among Rome’s pontifical seminaries. Players are priests or men studying for the priesthood, and the competition is often fierce.