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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Nobody Said They Were Saints Yet - Rowdiness at the Clericus Cup

ROME: A Vatican-backed football tournament for Rome seminarians and priests that has already had its share of red cards and rows on the pitch has been forced to crack down on rowdy supporters in the stands.

After neighbours living near the ground complained of noise, trainee priests supporting their teams in the Clericus Cup tournament have been told that they will be barred from entering the ground if they continue to show up armed with drums, megaphones, trumpets, maracas and ghetto blasters.

Loud chanting, sometimes in Latin, will also be discouraged to avoid "disturbing the peace", the organisers said.

Singled out for excessive celebrations were drum-beating fans urging on the Mexican players of Maria Mater Ecclesiae College. African seminarians turning out for Urban College have been backed by loud reggae music, and fans of Italian trainee priests from the Romano Maggiore Pontifical Seminary have used megaphones to great effect.

American seminarians from Rome's North American College, nicknamed the NAC, have been chanting "Come on you Knackers, kick some caboose", at games before singing doo-wap numbers.

Despite the noise ban, supporters of the cup holders, Redemptoris Mater Seminary, have reportedly said they will continue to sing a hymn from the stands before each game.

The ban comes in the wake of tense moments on the pitch in last season's final, when players from the losing side, Pontifical Lateran University, harangued the referee, saying an opponent had dived to win a penalty, and earned themselves spells in the special sin-bin set up for the tournament.

Pope Benedict said this month that football should promote "honesty, solidarity and fraternity".

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