The Messi vs Ronaldo debate is probably the most tiresome debate in football, and not something we would normally cover. But we feel this is a fair exemption.
Spanish sports paper Marca have been considered a Real Madrid mouthpiece, with Alex Ferguson claiming in 2008 - with some basis,given the reports linking Cristiano Ronaldo with a move to Real Madrid - that it was Madrid's vehicle to unsettle opposition players.
It would, therefore, be unlikely to see Marca take the Messi side of the eternal debate mentioned above.
They have, however, now been forced to admit defeat. To understand why, let's briefly delve into the history of the paper.
The paper was founded in December 1938, during the Spanish Civil War in the nationalist-held San Sebastian. Ultimately, the Spanish Civil War ended with the rise of nationalist Franco.
One of the main institutions to benefit from Franco's rise was the Catholic Church, whom Franco put in charge of the education system.
The nationalist views of Marca, therefore, were linked with those at the top of the Catholic Church during and after the seismic event that led to its founding.
Here's where this brief history lesson becomes relevant. The paper ran quotes by Pope Francis when the pontiff was asked whether his compatriot Leo Messi was the greatest player of all time. Here is how Marca reported it:
"For me, [Lionel] Messi is better than Maradona and Pele," the head of Church said, comfortable giving a third answer instead of one of the usual two.
Given his long history of love for the sport and his professed fandom, Pope Francis' words hold a certain weight, his good grace and backing given to a player already known for the divine.
Conspicuous omission of Ronaldo, there.
But then again, the Pope is infallible.
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