The Vatican is to offer its backing to an Italian third-division football team in a move it says will promote sportsmanship in the professional game. The Church hopes its venture will highlight ethical conduct in a game many fans feel is dominated by money. Its plans include cutting ticket prices and providing more seats for families. Ancona players are also scheduled to meet the Pope later in October.

Details of the deal have yet to be finalised, but the Church says it hopes to purge racist behaviour from the stadiums and to penalise fans who taunt or unfurl abusive banners.

While the Vatican will sponsor the club, it will not be classed as a shareholder. Some of the money generated may be reinvested in projects in the developing world, our correspondent says.

Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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