The Swiss Guards have been knocked out of the 2012 Coppa Vaticano. FC Guardia are one of only five teams to take part in the latest edition of the annual cup competition in the Holy See but a 5-2 defeat to Pantheon SD left the side drawn from the Pope’s personal guards bottom of the group stage.
The preliminary phase was won by New Hermes, a club drawn from the Vatican’s museum staff, who will play Fortitudo 2007 in the first of the two-legged semi-finals this weekend. Second placed Dirseco – a team from shop staff in the Vatican - and Pantheon SD will contest the other semi-final with the first leg also staged this weekend.
The number of teams entering the Coppa Vaticano has dwindled from the eight that entered the 2011 competition. Neither postal side Dirtel, Telefoni SCV nor police side Gendarmeria entered the 2012 Coppa Vaticano.
The reduction in teams is another blow for football in the Vatican, which was recently hit by the death of Dr Sergio Valci, the driving force behind the game there.
The late Dr Valci’s career as an amateur defender was ended by a scooter accident four decades ago. Half a game into his comeback at 24, the diminutive Valci knew that he would never play again. Instead, he set about forming a competition for the Vatican’s residents.
The origins of New Hermes date back to 1966. In 1972, the first league championship was first staged with fixtures played – then as now – on Monday nights at the Pontificio Oratorio di San Pietro leisure centre in the hills above the Vatican.
The Coppa Vaticano began in 1985 and is traditionally played after the league, which begins in February. In 2011, the Coppa Vaticano was staged before the league. This year the schedule returned to normal but the loss of Dr Valci has deprived the game in the Vatican of any normalcy.
Thanks to Aurelio for the pictures