‘Refereeing priests is wonderful experience’

Priests who are playing soccer in the pope’s backyard. That’s the Clericus Cup, a soccer tournament for priests and theology students. Very special, also for soccer referees, says Filippo Moretti, one of the match officials. “All players show their respect for the opposing players and to the referee.”

Referee Moretti (background) in action in a Clericus Cup match. Photo by Centro Sportivo Italiano
Last Saturday the international team of Redemtoris Mater won the final against the American North American Martyrs. The Vatican wants to promote christian sports culture, with virtues as fairness and compassion. Referee Moretti tells about this exceptional tournament.

Filippo Moretti, please introduce yourself.
“I am a referee since 1995. I started refereeing in the FIGC (Italian Football Federation) since 2002 and became a referee at Centro Sportivo Italiano (the organisation who organises the tournament). We started to arbitrate the Clericus Cup since the first edition in 2006.”

What is the difference between refereeing matches in this cup and matches your normally officiate?
“Clericus Cup matches are very different from other matches. The attitude of the players is very positive and proactive. The referees decisions almost always accepted without much protest. The Clericus Cup players want to win the matches but they don’t want to do it anyway! All players show their respect for the opposing players and to the referee.”

How do the players act during the tournament?
“Players are always correct enough, but the matches are true and then the players can sometimes use excessive vehemence. In such cases the referees should use the disciplinary action. And I must say that the latest edition of the Clericus Cup was quite undisciplined, so this year the referees used a lot of cards.”

How do you prepare for the matches?
“I prepare for the matches with weekly training sessions. A referee must be well trained to officiate in football matches and be ready to physical effort.”

How was the final?
“The two finals (for 3rd-4th place and 1st-2nd place) were played with extreme accuracy by all players and referees have not needed to give disciplinary sanctions. So good!”

What makes this tournament so special for you?
“The experience of refereeing a match of the Clericus Cup is very exciting because you can appreciate some situations that would be impossible to live anywhere else!”

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