Lionel Messi has been described as many things for his achievements on the football pitch but he should not be compared to God.
That’s the view of Pope Francis who was asked by a reporter about how the Barcelona star was nicknamed “D10S”.
Sky News says the term is a combination of the Spanish word for God, “dios”, and the striker’s No.10 shirt.
In an interview with Spanish television channel La Sexta, Pope Francis said of the Messi-God comparisons: “In theory, it is sacrilege. It shouldn’t be said. I do not believe it.
“People could call him God, just as they might say ‘I adore you’, but only God can be worshipped.
“[Saying] ‘he’s a god with the ball on the pitch’ is a popular way to express yourself. He’s great to watch – but he’s not God.”
Like Messi, 82-year-old Pope Francis is from Argentina. The head of the Catholic Church is a keen football fan, says The Irish Times, and is a club member of Buenos Aires team San Lorenzo.
Goal.com reports that Messi and the Argentina squad met with Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2013. Barca star Messi said the meeting was “short but beautiful”.