Thursday, 13 December 2007

Is the Pope Catholic? The religious views of the new England manager

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If football truly is a religion, and Fabio Capello achieves the impossible and leads the England team to salvation, we may just have to recognise him as the high priest of the national game, the Holy Father of the FA. Which will be appropriate given the insight into his faith and politics provided by today's Independent.

You see, it turns out that England's new Pope is indeed a Catholic. Hardly surprising, you might say, given the fact that he's Italian, and what of it? Nothing much really, except that Capello has been known to make his views public on more than one occasion – and these views are just as conservative as his style of football.

In a job that saw Glenn Hoddle fired for claiming disabled people are being punished for misdemeanours in their past lives, any new incumbent might be well-advised to keep any controversial views on matters of heaven and earth under wraps. Which may prove difficult for Capello, who earlier this year proclaimed his support for the conservatism of Pope Benedict XVI: "I'm very Catholic and I am not at all in favour of the current [Italian] law on abortion. I like the Pope – for me now the Church needs a traditionalist turn. I am someone who prays twice a day, in the morning and evening, wherever I find myself".

In addition to backing God's notorious rottweiler, the soon-to-be England boss – a supporter of Silvio Berlusconi – has previously expressed his admiration for General Franco, the fascist Spanish dictator whose regime was responsible for the deaths of 200,000 people. On returning to Italy from a spell managing Real Madrid, Capello was full of praise for Spanish society: "In Madrid, I breathed a sparkling atmosphere, the air of a country in Europe making the greatest progress. When I returned to Italy it seemed I had taken two steps back. Spain in two words? Latin warmth and creativity regulated by a rigorous order. The order which comes from Franco."

So, with this in mind, should humanist football fans (yes, them) rethink any support they may have had for the appointment of Capello? We'll certainly be keeping an eye on what the new boss has to say on non-footballing matters (he's already a possible contender for next year's Bad Faith Awards), but in the dressing room perhaps an iron fist is just what's required to whip England's perennial underachievers into shape?

4 comments:

Hugh Caldwell said...

Let's face it. National teams are dead. The Premiership is the greatest league in the world, but it's completely multinational. There's absolutely no point in national teams.

Paul Sims said...

Football debate on the NH blog. That's what we like to see!

I see your point Hugh, but try telling that to supporters of countries that actually do well, or those countries who will be soaking up the atmosphere and anticipation of a major tournament next summer. As for us, I hear Andrew Murray's improving every year...

Hugh Caldwell said...

Fabio Capello will have an easy job in Euro 2008, since England have already been eliminated from it. Ok, all of Croatia will be ecstatic if their team wins a game. Let me revise the 'no point in national teams' statement. For countries with feeble national leagues, it's a big deal.

hugh caldwell said...

Fabio Capello will have an easy job in Euro 2008, since England have already been eliminated from it. Ok, all of Croatia will be ecstatic if their team wins a game. Let me revise the 'no point in national teams' statement. For countries with feeble national leagues, it's a big deal.