As Poland brace for their first-ever European championships appearance, the Church in this deeply Catholic country is urging fans to pray for the squad, and to behave themselves if they are off to Euro 2008.
“We should support our players through prayer,” Father Edward Plen, who is the official chaplain to the Polish sports world, was quoted as saying in the Polska daily.
“It's important that our boys feel that they're not alone, and that they have the full support of the Catholic community.”
He also urged Polish fans, who have earned a reputation for hooliganism, to “keep to the principles of the Ten Commandments” when they encounter other supporters.
“We cannot forget that he who is on the other side is not only an adversary but also a man. He who takes his faith seriously cannot wish any harm to the other side,” said Plen.
Clerics wield considerable influence in Poland, where more than 90 percent of the 38-million-strong population is Catholic.
Poland have been drawn in Group B of the 16-nation tournament, and kick off with a baptism of fire against Germany — who they have never beaten — in their opening game next Sunday in Klagenfurt, southern Austria.
They take on Austria in the capital Vienna on June 12 and return to Klagenfurt to face Croatia on June 16.
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