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"I wish everyone a wonderful World Cup, played in a spirit of true fraternity," Francis wrote on his Twitter account.
In an additional video message broadcast by Brazilian network Rede Globo, the pontiff said football could teach people all over the world the values of team spirit, fair play and respect for the opponent.
"While it is true that at the end of this World Cup only one national team will be able to lift the winners' cup, we will all be winners if we learn the lessons that sport teaches to us, strengthening the bonds that unite us."
The Argentine-born pontiff, 77, is a keen supporter of Buenos Aires-based team San Lorenzo de Almagro, but he did not say which national squad he was rooting for in the World Cup.
Knowing his passion for football, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff invited him to attend the tournament when she visited the Vatican in February, but Francis did not take up the offer.
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