The headquarters of the German national soccer team for vintners, WEINELF, is based at Hochschule Geisenheim University and is currently buzzing with excitement. The "Selezione di calcio della Città del Vaticano", the national soccer team of the Vatican, has agreed to a match! The game will start on June 6, 2019, at 9 p.m. and will take place at the Pio XII Stadium in Albano Laziale, south of Rome. "Due to the fact that only a few hundred people have Vatican citizenship and that they cannot leave their posts for long, the team is seldom able to play friendly matches", according to Wikipedia. The Vatican team consists of the papal Swiss guards and councils, as well as the museum guards, but does not play very often. The world-famous coach Giovanni Trapattoni trained the papal team in 2010. Since 2002, most of the Vatican City state's matches have been played against the Principality of Monaco. The team of Borussia Mönchengladbach, "WEISWEILER ELF", is the only German team ever to have had the opportunity to play against the Vatican to date.
"We are deeply honored by the invitation", said WEINELF President Robert Lönarz. Together with Honorary Captain Doctor Franz Josef Jung, he officially requested this game through the Apostolic Nunciature in Berlin. "We were very surprised by the positive reply, but we are absolutely overjoyed to play a match against Pope Francis’s soccer team in the Eternal City of Rome". The team also asked to participate in a liturgical celebration and have an audience with the Holy Father as part of their trip to Rome.
"For us as a European association and soccer team, it means a lot to make this journey, said Robert Lönarz, pointing out that “wine and vines both have a very special meaning in the Old as well as the New Testament”. As President of the Union of European national football teams for winemakers e. V. (UENFW), he also aims to introduce wine, alongside football and education, as cultural products to the European stage. This was also the subject of a recent meeting with EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger in Brussels.
The Vatican team jerseys are testament to the importance of wine within the Vatican. For the first time in its history, the soccer team signed a three-year sponsorship agreement in April 2018 - with the Poderi di San Pietro winery.
"The next VINOEURO will take place in the Czech Republic in 2020. Anyone interested in watching WEINELF in action can do so on September 7, 2019, when the team will play against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Rheingaustadion in Geisenheim on the occasion of the artificial turf pitch inauguration of SV 1919 Johannisberg. “But for now, we are on our way to Rome after a training camp in southern Palatinate" Lönarz is happy to announce.
For more information on the WEINELF and UENFW, please visit