Members of Argentina's national football team met fellow Argentine Pope Francis in the Vatican on Tuesday.
Italy's squad was also there. The two teams are to play a friendly match in Rome on Wednesday.
The pontiff said the players should pray for him to "play an honest game on the pitch that God had put him on".
The players gave Pope Francis a shirt from each team with his name on it. The pontiff also received a silver vase from the Argentines and an olive tree from the Italians, as well as a signed football.
Pope Francis supports the Saints of San Lorenzo team in his hometown of Buenos Aires.
The BBC reports he would not be drawn on whether he would support Argentina or Italy on Wednesday.
"It will be a bit difficult for me to cheer for one team, but fortunately it is just a friendly match and may it really be like that, I hope", he said.