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Cardinal Nichols dons a Liverpool shirt to celebrate links with football

08 December 2023

Christians in Sport

Cardinal Nichols speaks at “A Celebration of Christianity and Football”, in the Bobby Moore Room in Wembley Stadium, on Sunday

Cardinal Nichols speaks at “A Celebration of Christianity and Football”, in the Bobby Moore Room in Wembley Stadium, on Sunday

THE links between Christianity and football were celebrated at an event at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, attended by church leaders, professional players, and fans.

“A Celebration of Christianity and Football”, held as part of the Football Association’s (FA’s) “Faith and Football” series, was hosted by the broadcaster Adrian Chiles, a Roman Catholic. The speakers included the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who wore a vintage Liverpool FC shirt, the Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas, who spoke about how football and faith had helped him to recover after his wife’s death (Books, 25 October 2019), and Jason McCarthy, a defender for Wycombe Wanderers, who spoke about how his journey to Christian faith began in the dressing-room.

The Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Libby Lane, the C of E’s bishop for sport, led worship.

The keynote speech was given by the general director of Christians in Sport, Graham Daniels, himself a former player. The “three marks of footballers transformed by Christ” were, he said, “fulfilment, authenticity, and witness”.

The director of the Sanctuary Foundation, Dr Krish Kandiah, said in a video message after the event that he was encouraged that the FA wished to acknowledge the connection between football and Christianity. “So many of our football teams have a church history,” he said. He knew first-hand from the experience of his foster children how football could help children to develop self-esteem and a sense of well-being. “Football is a great gift,” he said.

‘Kind’ chaplain mourned. Tributes have been paid to the chaplain of Brentford FC, Stuart Cashman, who died on Tuesday of last week, aged 51, after suffering from a kidney illness. His death was announced at half-time during Brentford’s home match against Luton Town, on Saturday, at the Gtech Community Stadium, and a photo was displayed on the stadium’s big screen. A statement from the club said: “He was a kind, kind man and always made time for you.” Mr Cashman was Pastor of Immanuel Church, Brentford, a Presbyterian church.

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