Pope Wars continued: Well...actually neither of them watched the World Cup final

(Photo: Vatican)

Gambling might be discouraged in the Bible, but all bets were off in the run up to Sunday's World Cup final as Germany and Argentina faced off in a match that was pitted as "Pope vs Pope".

Supporters from around the world speculated which of the teams would be lifting the golden trophy at the final whistle, and which pontiff – Argentinean born Francis or German Benedict XVI – would prove to be the greatest prayer.

Francis is an avid supporter of the Saints of San Lorenzo in Buenos Aires while his predecessor is said to be a fan of Bayern Munich, and it was thought that each would be cheering on their respective national teams on Sunday night.

However, sources from both camps have revealed that neither pope actually watched the final match.

The Vatican's chief of ceremonies, Guillermo Karcher, told Argentine broadcaster Radio del Plata: "The pope was updated on the World Cup but said he wasn't going to watch it as a matter of neutrality".

He did, however note that Francis' staff "kept him informed play by play".

Furthermore, Benedict's secretary Archbishop Georg Gaenswein said the former pontiff "preferred to sleep" rather than watch the nail-biting finale, though his staff were glued to the screen and "all supported Germany".

"This occasion has made people understand that there is a nice understanding between the two popes," Gaenswein added.

Indeed the two enjoy a closer friendship that may be expected, though Benedict has maintained a quiet lifestyle since officially retiring on 28 February last year.

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