Des fans de San Lorenzo, le club argentin de soccer dont le nouveau pape est un fervent supporteur, étaient vêtus samedi de soutanes, alors que les joueurs arboraient sur le terrain un portrait de François sur leur maillot.

L'équipe de San Lorenzo étrennait cette image du pape à l'occasion d'un match contre le club de Colon à Santa Fe, à 500 km au nord de Buenos Aires, pour une rencontre du Tournoi final du championnat d'Argentine.

Le pape "va nous aider. Plus personne ne nous arrête. Enfin si Dieu le veut et si François nous donne un coup de main, car maintenant, il a une ligne directe avec le tout-puissant", lance en pointant un doigt au ciel José Maria Cottonaro, 55 ans, un fan de San Lorenzo.

Samedi, des supporteurs de San Lorenzo ont convergé vers Santa Fe depuis la capitale Buenos Aires et diverses régions du pays pour soutenir leur équipe, mal en point dans ce championnat (13e sur 20), mais désormais épaulée par un 12e homme installé au Vatican.

"Je suis fier que le pape soit argentin, mais je suis encore plus fier qu'il soit supporteur de San Lorenzo", confie Carlos Trucco, 43 ans, qui apelle le pape "Pancho", le surnom donné habituellement aux François en Argentine.

Autour de lui, des dizaines d'inconditionnels de San Lorenzo portent une soutane aux couleurs du club: rouge et bleu.

Sur les maillots des joueurs, une inscription "pape François" apparaît au-dessus d'une photo en médaillon du souverain pontife en habit blanc, entre le logo du club et le nom de l'équipementier. La photo disparaîtra du maillot à partir du prochain match.

Un exemplaire du maillot sera expédié par le club à Jorge Bergoglio, le nouveau pape, au Vatican.

"La nomination de Pancho me rend heureux car c'est une des figures les plus importantes du monde et c'est un supporteur de San Lorenzo, il montre nos couleurs, c'est notre ambassadeur", affirme Nicolas Robles, 33 ans.

San Lorenzo

Cecilia Balbi, 27 ans, une fan du club, ne s'étonne pas que le pape affiche ainsi sa passion pour San Lorenzo: "Oh moi, la religion... Même si je crois en Dieu et au pape, c'est un homme normal, commun".

L'équipe entraînée actuellement par Juan Antonio Pizzi (ex-Ténérife, Barcelone) appartient au 5e club d'Argentine en nombre de supporteurs après Boca Juniors, River Plate, le Racing et Independiente, tous de l'agglomération de Buenos Aires.

Celui de San Lorenzo a été fondé en 1908 par le curé Lorenzo Massa et pour José Luis Laje, 54 ans, le club du quartier de Boedo à Buenos Aires "restera l'équipe de Dieu. Aujourd'hui, nous avons un supporteur plus célèbre, mais nous avons toujours eu Dieu avec nous. Plus encore, avec un représentant des saints sur la terre".

Inconnu au niveau international, le club de San Lorenzo a gagné en quelques jours avec un seul supporteur une renommée qu'il n'avait jamais acquise avec onze titres de championnat, une Coupe sud-américaine et une Coupe Mercosur.

"Grâce au pape, nous sommes connus dans le monde entier, mais ce n'est pas pour autant qu'on va gagner", relève Adrian Aicardi, 41 ans, peu optimiste sur l'avenir sportif du club, malgré l'apport spirituel du souverain pontife et l'apport défensif de la dernière recrue du club, Mauro Cetto (ex-Toulouse, Palerme et Lille).

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  • In this image made from video provided by CTV, Pope Francis, center, celebrates his inaugural Mass with cardinals, inside the Sistine Chapel, at the Vatican, Thursday, March 14, 2013. As the 266th pope, Francis inherits a Catholic church in turmoil, beset by the clerical sex abuse scandal, internal divisions and dwindling numbers in parts of the world where Christianity had been strong for centuries. (AP Photo/CTV)

  • In this image made from video provided by CTV, Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural Mass with cardinals inside the Sistine Chapel, at the Vatican, Thursday, March 14, 2013. As the 266th pope, Francis inherits a Catholic church in turmoil, beset by the clerical sex abuse scandal, internal divisions and dwindling numbers in parts of the world where Christianity had been strong for centuries. (AP Photo/CTV)

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  • Pope Francis watches the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

  • Pope Francis speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

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  • Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

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  • Pope Francis speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

  • Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

  • Pope Francis speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

  • A noon reacts after white smoke billowed from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel indicating that a new pope has been elected in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Pope Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

  • Pope Francis speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

  • Pope Francis speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

  • Pope Francis speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

  • Cardinals watch as Pope Francis speaks to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Francis speak to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

  • Visitors take photos of Pope Francis as he speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

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  • Pope Francis speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Pope Francis blesses the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013, shortly after being elected pope. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

  • Pope Francis speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Pope Francis speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Francis speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)