VATICAN CITY (AP) " Two big-name Argentines have had a VIP meeting at the Vatican " Pope Francis and Barcelona football star Lionel Messi.
The player, his fellow teammates on the Argentine national soccer squad as well as Italy's national team players were enjoying a private audience Tuesday with the first Latin American-born pontiff in the Apostolic Palace.
The teams meet Wednesday in Rome in a friendly match.
Francis told the players to remember they are role models on and off the field "for better or worse." He asked for their prayers for himself "on the playing field God put me on."
Francis also lamented that sport has become big business.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.