You will not find a single line about football in the Bible for the obvious reason that the sport had yet to be invented. For one particular priest in Poznan, however, it is high time to reduce the distance between football and religion – quite literally.
A priest wearing a football shirt and scarf is not something you generally stumble across everyday, but in the Polish city it has become a common sight. Like the other host cities, Poznan has its own fan zone, but close by supporters can also visit another place of football worship – the 'Jesus zone', set up by Father Szymon Nowicki, a sports chaplain in the diocese of Poznan.
"Football fans are sometimes depicted in a negative, stereotypical way, but the reality of big football events shows that they don't behave like they're expected to do," said Father Szymon, also a faithful servant of KKS Lech Poznań and the Polish national team.
"Among the other attractions, there is a religious initiative going on – in the Jesus zone, We don't want to be intrusive. We are not going to urge people to visit a church or pray either. We just want to honour the spiritual needs of fans and enjoy the tournament with them."
Through the initiative of Father Szymon, masses will be held in English, Croatian, and Italian during UEFA EURO 2012, while his colleagues will be distributing a special newspaper, which features an interview with former Poland defender Bartosz Bosacki. However, their real hero is Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, who not only won the Polish title and finished top scorer with Lech before moving to Borussia Dortmund, but also took part in a religious drive last week.
"He will score against Greece," predicted Father Szymon before Poland's opening game in Warsaw. Apparently, the Jesus zone also specialises in premonitions.
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