Vatican City national football team

The Vatican City national football team (Italian: Selezione di calcio della Città del Vaticano) is the football team that represents Vatican City under the control of the Vatican Amateur Sports Association, headquartered in the Vatican's Cortile di San Damaso.[2] The Vatican City football association was founded in 1972. Its current president is Domenico Ruggerio.[3][4] Gianfranco Guadagnoli, an Italian, is the current head coach.[3] The team has been managed by Giovanni Trapattoni in the past.[5] His first match as manager was played on 23 October 2010 when Vatican City faced a team composed of Italian financial police.[6] The team played its first match in 1985, a 3–0 victory against a representative of Austrian journalists.[7] In 2018, the Vatican also created a women's representative team.[8]

Vatican City
Shirt badge/Association crest
AssociationVatican Amateur Sports Association
Head coachGianfranco Guadagnoli
Top scorerAlessandro Quarto (1)
Home stadiumCampo Pio XI
Rome, Italy
First colours
Second colours
First international
  Vatican City 0–0 San Marino B 
(Rome, Italy; 1994)


Albert II, Prince of Monaco greeting team in June 2013
A carousel in the Cortile del Belvedere in 1565, 44 years after the first football match was held in the Vatican
Jersey worn by Vatican City in April 2017 during its friendly match with Monaco

In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II established a Vatican sports department with the aim of "reinvigorating the tradition (of sport) within the Christian community".[9] In 2006, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone suggested that the Vatican could field a team of men from Catholic seminaries. About the prospect, the cardinal stated, "If we just take the Brazilian students from our Pontifical universities we could have a magnificent squad." The cardinal also noted that in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, there were 42 players in the final round who attended Salesian training centres worldwide.[10] For example, Marcelino, Spanish hero of the 1964 European Nations' Cup was a former seminarian. It was Bertone's proposal that the Vatican's players, even if accepted by UEFA, would be drawn from the population within the Catholic Church worldwide, not just citizens of Vatican City. He was unclear at the time whether the Vatican would grant these players Vatican citizenship to make this possible.[11]

With the smallest population of any nation, approximately 900, it is difficult to form a squad. The Vatican City squad consists entirely of employees of the Vatican: police officers, postal workers, government officials and members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, the Vatican's de facto army, charged with protecting the pope. Since most Vatican citizens are members of the Swiss Guard, they cannot be amassed in large numbers for a long time. Therefore, the national team has played only a few rare international matches, often drawing a fair amount of interested press.[3] When Vatican City played its first match in 2002, only one player, Marcello Rosati, had a Vatican passport. In 2010, Vatican City was invited to participate in the Viva World Cup by the N.F.-Board and were expected to participate[12] but were unable to do so because they could not assemble a 15-man roster.[13] In total, Vatican City have played only four full international matches against other nations, one draw and three defeats to Monaco in 2002, 2011, 2013, and 2014 respectively.

In addition to its full international matches, the team has played a friendly match, its first, against the San Marino reserve team in 1994.[14] The final score of that match is believed to be a 0–0 draw but Steve Menary's book 'Outcasts: The Lands that FIFA Forgot' states that Vatican insiders told him that the match ended 1–1.[15] In 2010, the Vatican organized a team to play a friendly game against Palestine. However, the team was made up of Catholic priests and was not considered the Vatican City national team.[16] In 2006, the Vatican City played SV Vollmond, a team from Switzerland, at Stadio Petriana with Vatican City prevailing 5–1.[10][17] The team has also competed against a representative team from the Diocese of Limburg.[18] In September 2016 the team participated in a triangular tournament at the Manlio Scopigno Stadium in Rieti to raise funds for earthquake victims. Former Italian international Simone Perrotta also participated in the tournament.[19]

In April 2019 it was announced that the team had signed its first-ever sponsor, Poderi di San Pietro, a family-owned winery in Milan. The agreement was reached after ensuring that the organization met the strict ethical criteria established by the team. Previously, the Association was approached by a sports betting organization offering a very large sponsorship but was rejected for not aligning with those ethical standards.[20]

The Vatican's stance on footballEdit

Vatican footballing history began on 7 January 1521 when the first match of Calcio Fiorentino was played in the Vatican in the Cortile del Belvedere, in the presence of Pope Leo X. The first Vatican league was created in 1973 and was first won by employees of L'Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of the Holy See.[21]

The Vatican has typically expressed strong support for football. Pope John Paul II was reportedly a goalkeeper in his youth in Poland, and an ardent supporter of Cracovia Kraków.[22] The former German pope Pope Benedict XVI is an ardent supporter of Bayern Munich since his youth growing up in Bavaria, Germany.[23] Benedict is quoted as saying, "The sport of football can be a vehicle of education for the values of honesty, solidarity and fraternity, especially for the younger generation."[22] In October 2007, the Pope was presented with a #16 shirt (in reference to the sixteenth use of his papal name) by Serie B side Ancona after Benedict supported their initiative to become a "beacon of morality" by adopting an "innovative, ethical model of practising football".[22]

In 2010, Benedict and the Vatican reaffirmed their belief that football should be a beacon of morality by lashing out at Serie A after matches for the upcoming season were scheduled at 12:30pm on Sundays to appease pay-per-view companies wishing to spread out Serie A matches over the weekend. The Vatican previously questioned the league's decision to play matches on Sundays at all, but "I consider this a truly harmful development," Monsignor Carlo Mazza told Tuttosport. "Putting people in front of the television screen at 12.30 CET, when they are having lunch with their families, to me seems like a 'pitch invasion' on life."[24] Additionally, on 18 December 2006, Tarcisio Bertone, Cardinal Secretary of State of the Holy See, stated, but only in jest, that he did not preclude the possibility that the Vatican, in the future, could put together a football team of great value, that could play on the same level as, Roma, Internazionale and Milan or Genoa.[25][26] The current Argentinian pope, Pope Francis is an ardent fan of his hometown club San Lorenzo,[27] and exhibited disappointment when Argentina lost the 2014 World Cup final against Germany.[28]

FIFA membershipEdit

The Vatican is one of only nine fully recognized sovereign states whose national team is not a FIFA member. The others are the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Monaco, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom (though the UK's four "home countries" (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) have individual FIFA teams each of which is also a member of the IFAB).[3]

In 2006 UEFA spokesperson William Gaillard told a media outlet that he saw no reason why the Vatican should not have a national team in international competitions. He said, "We already have states of 30,000 citizens like San Marino, Liechtenstein, and Andorra. If the Vatican wants to become a member of UEFA all it has to do is apply. If it meets the requirements, it will be accepted". At that time Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone insisted that the Vatican's football future lies only in amateur games and competitions.[29]

In May 2014, Domenico Ruggerio, president of the national football association, reinforced Bertone's words from eight years prior, stating that "I prefer to be amateur...To join FIFA, at that level, will be like a business" after stating "The important message of friendship and love is demonstrated by the sport — the real sport, not the business that is in football these days...It is not just important to win a match; it is how you carry yourself." Therefore, that, he added, meant that "the ethos of the Vatican’s soccer team was, at odds with FIFA membership."[3]

In an April 2019 interview Danilo Zennaro, football director of the Vatican, told the St. Galler Tagblatt that the association would also not seek membership in an alternate confederation like ConIFA because of "political reasons" such as the diplomatic strife that would ensue from being in the same organization as breakaway regions and disputed territories.[30]


The team's current kit is provided by Sportika SA. The current kit has an image of Saint Peter's Basilica ghosted on the front.[31] In the past, the kit has been provided by Diadora. The shorts are all white while the top is solid yellow with a narrow blue and white line around the right upper quadrant of the body.[32]



  Win   Draw   Loss

1994 Vatican City    0–0   San Marino B Rome, Italy
Stadium: Campo Pio XI
23 November 2002 Vatican City    0–0   Monaco Albano Laziale, Italy
Report Stadium: Stadio Pio XII
7 May 2011 Vatican City    1–2   Monaco Albano Laziale, Italy
Alessandro Quarto   Report Stadium: Stadio Pio XII
22 June 2013 Monaco   2–0    Vatican City Cap-d'Ail, France
Morgan Escarras   9'
Eric Fissore   34'
Report Stadium: Stade des Moneghetti
10 May 2014 Vatican City    0–2   Monaco Rome, Italy
Report Stadium: Campo Pio XI
29 April 2017 Vatican City    0–0   Monaco Rome, Italy
Report Stadium: Campo Pio XI
23 March 2019 Vatican City    2–2   Raetia Rome, Italy
Report Mirco Oswald  ,   Stadium: Campo Pio XI


3 February 2006 Vatican City    5–1   SV Vollmond Rome, Italy
Report Stadium: Campo Pio XI
10 August 2014 Weisweiler Elf   8–1    Vatican City Mönchengladbach, Germany
Report Attendance: 10,ooo
16 June 2018 FC Azzurri Schaan   8–1    Vatican City Schaan, Liechtenstein
Walser   28'
Züger   33'
Bicker   42'51'55' (pen.)58'68'
Condito   65'
Report Marco Pouti   2' Stadium: Sportanlage Rheinwiese


7 November 2016 Fondazione Ospedale San Matteo   2–1    Vatican City Pavia, Italy
Report Stadium: Stadio Pietro Fortunati


Giovanni Trapattoni coached the team in 2010.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Elo rankings change compared to one year ago. "World Football Elo Ratings". 10 December 2020. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  2. ^ Nuti, Nicola. "Vaticano: 7 squadre per il campionato di calcio" (in Italian). News Cattoliche. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Montague, James. "A Friendly Game for a Beatific State". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
  4. ^ "Vaticano". Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  5. ^ "The things they say: Giovanni Trapattoni". FIFA. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Trapattoni betreut Vatikan-Auswahl" (in German). Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  7. ^ Ferrera, Elena. "VATICANO NEL PALLONE CON SQUADRE PAPALI" (in Italian). Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  8. ^ Wimmer, Anian Christoph. "Abortion, LGBT activists disrupt Vatican women footballers' debut". Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  9. ^ "Vatican Cup lifts spirits in Rome". FIFA. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  10. ^ a b Saffer, Paul. "Pray as you play". Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  11. ^ Relano, Alfredo. "Lo que el Vaticano quiere es Selección" (in Spanish). Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  12. ^ Colchester, Max. "The World Cup For Everyone Else". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  13. ^ Parada, Gonzalo. "La Selección de fútbol del Vaticano vuelve al verde césped" (in Spanish). Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  14. ^ "Vatican Football". The Path Less Traveled. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  15. ^ "Praying for a win – the Vatican City at World Cup 2014?". Six Balls Between Us. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  16. ^ Willey, David (19 December 2006). "Vatican plays down soccer 'joke'". BBC News.
  17. ^ "Fussball im Vatikan" (in German). 1. FC Ratzinger. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  18. ^ Pradelli, Christian. "Trap ct della nazionale vaticana Sfiderà la Guardia di Finanza il 23/10" (in Italian). Sport Media Set. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  19. ^ "Terremoto Centro Italia - Venerdì a Rieti la Nazionale italiana sindaci partecipa a triangolare di solidarietà" (in Italian). Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  20. ^ Gerevini, Maria. "Per la "nazionale" del Papa ora c'è uno sponsor (di)vino" (in Italian). Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  21. ^ Mattei, Giampaolo. "Lo scudetto vaticano? Ai Gendarmi E per gli Svizzeri". Retrieved 14 February 2014.
  22. ^ a b c "Pope: Football a moral guide to life". CNN. 10 January 2008.
  23. ^ "Pope heading to World Youth Day aboard 'Shepherd One'". 9 July 2008.
  24. ^ "Vatican slams Serie A Sunday lunchtime kick-offs". ESPN. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  25. ^ "Vatican team will have the hand of God". Agence France-Presse. 18 December 2006. Archived from the original on 30 June 2007.
  26. ^ David Willey (19 December 2006). "Vatican plays down soccer 'joke'". BBC News. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  27. ^ "Pope Francis to celebrate birthday with visit from his favourite football team". Catholic Herald. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  28. ^ "Former Pope Benedict Please With Germany's World Cup Victory, Hopes Argentina 'Recovers Soon'". The Christian Post. 16 July 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  29. ^ "Vatican squashes soccer team idea". Italy Magazine. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  30. ^ Lemmenmeier, Adrian. "Abseits der Fifa: Der Fussball-Verband nicht anerkannter Staaten wächst – auch ein Team aus Graubünden ist dabei" (in German). St. Gallen Tagblatt. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  31. ^ "2017 Kit". Doing the 116. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  32. ^ "First half goals secure Monaco win against Vatican City". Non-FIFA Football. Retrieved 23 June 2013.

External linksEdit