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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

4 July 2014: Michael Rowan, Parishioner, St Laurence Catholic Church

Christian Faith and Football

I made myself prepared for the FIFA football matches in Brazil. I organised the television as a high altar in our sitting-room, and placed my comfortable chair in the best position in the room. I bought a traditional beer glass in Petersfield, instead of "borrowing" a glass from the village pub. I bought my beer from the local craft brewery through the village store.

I did not buy the beer from the supermarket since I read the article by Tim Martin, the Chairman of Wetherspoons Pubs in the Summer edition of Wetherspoon News. He highlights the fact that supermarkets pay no VAT in respect of food sales, whereas pubs pay 20 per cent, enabling supermarkets to subsidise the price of their alcoholic drinks-a main reason for 10,000 pubs closing in the last 10 Years.

Now that outburst is off my chest it is time to get back to football. Sitting in my comfortable chair on the 19th of June, watching Columbia versus the Ivory Coast, I saw Rodriguez head the ball into the goal from a corner. There was jubilation on the field- Rodriguez blessed himself. Football is where you see the simple signs of the Christian Faith. Players enter the field and make the sign of the cross, discreetly. Goals are made and then sliding on knees and again the sign of the cross. Then we have many male hugs.

Aguilar came off the field with the score Columbia 2 Ivory Coast 1. There was touching of hands with his colleague coming onto the field and then the sign of the cross. I continued to watch the football. Sadly England had gone. I have seen a pattern of behaviour - South American teams show a Christian faith in their public expression on and off the field. Is Jesus on the field? God only knows. I continue to watch the football and drink my local beer from my honest pint glass.

This article was submitted for publication in the Petersfield Herald on 4 July; it is possible that it was published earlier or may be published later.

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