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Pope Francis skipped World Cup final to stay "neutral"

Pope Francis did not watch his native Argentina play Germany in the World Cup final as "a matter of neutrality", the Vatican's chief of ceremonies Guillermo Karcher said.

BUENOS AIRES: Pope Francis did not watch his native Argentina play Germany in the World Cup final as "a matter of neutrality", the Vatican's chief of ceremonies Guillermo Karcher said on Monday.

Francis is known as a lifelong football fan and card-carrying member of Argentine club San Lorenzo, but Karcher said he did not even tune in to see the nail-biting final in Brazil, which Germany won 1-0 in extra time.

"The Pope was updated on the World Cup but said he wasn't going to watch it as a matter of neutrality," Karcher, one of Francis's closest associates, told Argentine broadcaster Radio del Plata.

"We kept him informed play by play. We're happy and continue to support the team."

Karcher, who is also Argentine, worked with the Pope - then named Jorge Bergoglio - when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires.

The Pope stuck to the neutrality principle ahead of the match, limiting himself to a comment about the importance of intercultural exchange on Twitter.

"The World Cup allowed people from different countries and religions to come together. May sport always promote the culture of encounter," he wrote Saturday on his @pontifex account.

There had been much speculation before the final about whether Francis would watch it with his German predecessor, pope emeritus Benedict XVI.

But it appears neither watched the match.

Close associates of Benedict say he dislikes football and prefers theology and piano music to sports.

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