Soccer Manager-Turned Priest Shares Message of Peace Ahead of World Cup Playoffs

‘Soccer is a universal language that transcends any barrier and eliminates the differences between communities,’ said Father David Jasso.

 (photo: Credit: Rhett Lewis / Unsplash / Credit: Rhett Lewis / Unsplash)

Before he became a priest, Father David Jasso was the manager of a major Mexican soccer club that won two championships, and ahead of this year’s World Cup in Qatar, he had an important message to give.

Father Jasso managed the Monterrey Soccer Club in Mexico, known as the “Rayados,” leading the team to local championships in 2009 and 2010.

A few weeks before the start of the FIFA (International Federation of Football Association) Soccer World Cup to be held in Qatar this year, Father Jasso appealed to players and fans to experience “soccer with joy and as an opportunity to grow our talents, remembering that sports and soccer are also a gift from God.”

In an Oct. 6 Facebook post titled “It’s still time to experience the World Cup in peace,” Father Jasso pointed out that “soccer should be a safe family event.”

“No more violence in something as beautiful and exciting as soccer! I learned this during my time at the Monterrey Soccer Club -Rayados- as Sports Manager before becoming a priest,” he wrote.

The Mexican priest lamented that “on Oct. 1, at least 131 people died after chaos and violence broke out during a soccer match in the Indonesian league.”

“This event is being recorded as one of the deadliest stadium disasters of all time,” he added.

Father Jasso also recalled the violence unleashed at the La Corregidora Stadium in Querétaro, Mexico, where a confrontation between the fans of the Querétaro Fútbol Club and the Atlas Fútbol Club “according to official figures, left 26 injured, with dozens of scenes of brutality and more than 30 arrested.”

“I remember as a child witnessing these kinds of ‘riots,’ ‘fights,’ or ‘brawls’ at the stadium I went to with my father, and even learning from the news of acts of violence in the vicinity or even in neighborhoods or suburbs after a classic, the most important match in the city, even more important than a match for the Mexican all-star team.”

“Those who instigate violence or aggression of any kind don’t know or completely forget what soccer is,” he said.

“Soccer is a social phenomenon that moves the world in more ways than one. Soccer is a universal language that transcends any barrier and eliminates the differences between communities.”

“It’s not for nothing that there are more countries affiliated with FIFA than with the U.N., for example,” he said.

Father Jasso then recalled the message that Pope St. John Paul II addressed to the leaders of the Union of European Football Federations (UEFA) in May 2000, in which he encouraged soccer to serve for the “promotion of greatness and the dignity of man.”

On that occasion, Pope St. John Paul II also said that this sport can serve to encourage young people “to learn the great values of life and to spread everywhere the great virtues that are the basis of a worthy human society, such as tolerance, respect for human dignity, peace, and brotherhood.”

The Mexican priest said that “we are close to experiencing an unprecedented World Cup, after the COVID-19 pandemic that paralyzed the world, held in an unusual month that has involved advancing local tournaments and mobilizing many actualities, in a country like Qatar, one of the most influential nations in the world and highly criticized, not only for the conditions of migrant workers but for many other factors.”

“In the midst of the impact of a crisis caused by the pandemic, an accelerated change in the time of the year, and the impact of a war between Russia and Ukraine, we are called to build peace and harmony in our neighborhoods and communities,” he said.

Father Jasso encouraged “making the most important soccer festival in the world a festival of peace and for peace.”

“Let’s experience and enjoy our own local tournament in its final phase, moving away from these events that affect people, families, and communities around a sport that is played all over the world for its simplicity, closeness (to the people), and emotions,” he encouraged.