Catholic museum probes soccer’s debt to religion

May 22, 2008

AC Milan’s Kaka wears “I belong to Jesus” shirt, 21 May 2008/Leonhard FoegerThe museum at Vienna’s Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Stephen has a new exhibition meant to show what it says soccer owes to religion. As my colleague Alexandra Hudson writes from the Austrian capital:

Players such as Argentina’s Diego Maradona are venerated as saints of the modern age, the exhibition explains, and fans frequently set up shrines or collect “relics” of their favourite teams or players.

“There are many parallels between the cult of football and the rituals of the Christian Church,” said museum director Bernhard Böhler.

An ”I belong to Jesus” shirt worn by an AC Milan player and Maradona’s famous “hand of God” goal are cited to show the links between faith and football. The exhibition, entitled Heroes, Saints and Heaven Stormers, runs from May 21 to September 22.

Do you think soccer owes as much to religion as the museum director says?

P.S. Readers of this blog may recall Bernhard Böhler from an earlier and far more controversial exhibition, the show of artist Alfred Hrdlicka’s work that included a painting depicting the Last Supper as a gay orgy (we blogged on it here and here and here). That got him into hot water, with protests pouring in from Austria, Germany and the United States. It wouldn’t have surprised me to hear he had been fired, but this soccer story suggests he’s weathered the storm.  

4 comments

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You haven’t actually said what the museum director’s claim is?!

Posted by Brad Larsen | Report as abusive

It’s in the feature. Click on “Alexandra Hudson writes” to see the whole story.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

Well the historical relationship between football and religion here in the West of Scotland is well known, I don’t know if this museum will just gloss over that though…

Posted by Ryan | Report as abusive

That may be true is Argentina and other countries, but here in the US of A, soccor replaces Mass on Sunday, and in my book that is scandalous. Even tho Mass is offered on Saturday evening, parents use the ‘soccor match’ as an excuse to skip Mass in many places. Alas!