09 October 2007

Diving and the divine

Like any other successful multinational corporation, the Roman Catholic Church has been diversifying of late. Not content with reaching out into deep space, as reported recently by Hofflimits, it is now reaching into depths almost as murky and mysterious: Italian professional football. Having resolved all other spiritual matters successfully, the papacy has now turned its attentions to saving the soul of Italian football, which has recently been through one of its periodic bouts of corruption.

The Italian Bishop's Conference now has a controlling stake in AC Ancona, currently top of Italy's third division, after money was provided by a group of Catholic businessmen. Edoardo Menichelli, the Archbishop of Ancona, said the move would help bring more morality into football: "We want to bring some ethics back into the game, which has been undergoing a grave crisis in terms of sportsmanship''.

A new code of conduct has been introduced for the club's players, whereby on field lapses are punished with off-field penance - voluntary work for a red card, for example. And so now it is not just England football fans who will know what it is like to be punished by the hand of God.

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