Pope Francis has a message for the World Cup: let football be a showcase for teamwork and solidarity, not an exhibition of racism and greed.

The Argentine-born, football-loving Pope recorded a video message that was broadcast on Brazilian television ahead of Thursday’s opening match between Brazil and Croatia.

The Pope said football teaches three lessons that can promote peace and solidarity around the world — the need to train and work hard to reach goals, the importance of fair play and teamwork, and the need to respect and honour opponents.

“To win, we must overcome individualism, selfishness, all forms of racism, intolerance and manipulation of people,” he said. He said being “greedy” in football, as in life, was an obstacle.

“Let nobody turn their back on society and feel excluded!” he said. “No to segregation! No to racism!”

It’s unclear how the Pope will keep track of Argentina’s progress in the World Cup. He doesn’t have a TV in the Vatican hotel room where he lives, though one could certainly be made available. — AP