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Pope waves Argentina jersey in possible World Cup U-turn

Pope Francis receives an Argentina soccer jersey during his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican
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Pope Francis receives an Argentina soccer jersey during his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican June 25, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION)

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Pope Francis pledged to remain neutral during the World Cup - rooting for neither Italy, where he lives, nor his home country of Argentina - but it appears he may have changed his mind.

Before today's crucial Group F match with Nigeria, the pontiff was seen holding the famous blue and white jersey of Argentina in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

Presumably, the Pope couldn't help himself. With talismanic captain Lionel Messi in fine form and Italy already out of the competition, he could afford to be a little enthusiastic.

[Photos: Why they call it the beautiful game - 65 stunning images of the World Cup]

Argentina beat Nigeria 3-2 to take the group and progress to the round of 16. For his part, Messi didn't disappoint. He had a magisterial two-goal performance for the Argentinians.

The world's most influential Catholic is known to be a great admirer of the beautiful game.

As the cup started, he tweeted out a message to all teams:

A fan of Club San Lorenzo - a professional team in Buenos Aires - the Pope met with Messi and a delegation from the Argentine Football Association last year. 

Perhaps he blessed Messi's famous left foot.

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