World Cup founder's Catholic roots

The FIFA World Cup competition now under way in Germany was known originally as the Jules Rimet Cup in honour of its French founder, a committed Christian inspired by a vision of "universal brotherhood", according to the Agence France Presse.

Born in 1873, Jules Rimet moved with his family to Paris where he became involved in a parish youth club and a Catholic workers study circle where he "discovered" football.

Inspired by emerging Catholic social teaching, Rimet wanted "to reconcile the different classes in a Christian spirit and to relieve the moral and physical suffering of the poorest". In this vision, football could also make a contribution to "universal peace and brotherhood".

In 1898, he founded a democratic and republican Christian magazine, The Review which in 1899 merged with The Furrow (Le Sillon), magazine of the pioneering lay movement of the same name created by Marc Sangnier.

At the time, there were only around 30 football teams in France, comprising mainly of English expatriates, with only 9 teams based in Paris.

At the suggestion of Marc Sangnier, Jules Rimet joined the French Union of Athletic Sports (USFSA) which promoted English sports in France in competition with the Church-supported monarchist-tending Youth Clubs Gymnastic and Sporting Federation (FGSP).

On 21 May 1904, the USFSA launched the International Amateur Football Federation (FIFA). FIFA, however, refused to include professional "English" teams. In 1910, Rimet therefore launched the Association Football League, ancestor of the French Football Federation (FFF) of which he became president in 1919.

In 1921, Rimet was also elected president of FIFA and set out to organise a world cup tournament. Starting with the London Olympics of 1908, football was already an Olympic sport with Uruguay winning the gold medal at the Paris Games of 1924. However, Rimet and other FIFA leaders, notably Henri Delaunay, wanted to create a competition that was not exclusively for amateurs.

The issue was soon resolved. In 1925, Rimet convinced the Uruguayan government to host a "World Championship" and in 1928 FIFA officially decided to organise "a World Cup competition every four years".

In 1930, Jules Rimet left for Montevideo taking with him a solid gold and silver statue by the French sculptor Abel Lafleur. France did well in the inaugural competition which was eventually won by Uruguay defeating Argentina 4-2.

Rimet's Christian inspired vision thus came to fruition.

Jules Rimet, founder of the World Cup (Agence France Presse, 6/6/2006)
History of FIFA World Cup (FIFA)
Jules Rimet Cup (FIFA)
Jules Rimet, the poet

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
History of the birth of the creation of the Football World Cup (Foot Forever)
Jules Rimet (Wikipedia)

Scottish fans "may sin" by not supporting England in World Cup (CathNews 7/6/06)
Caritas condemns prostitution at World Cup (CathNews 25/5/06)
Pope tells footballers: reject racism (CathNews 3/3/06)


14 Jun 2006