Soccer’s second World Cup, held in 1934, was won by The Vatican in a shocking 1-0 upset over Belgium. Dressed in the harlequin colors and puffy pantaloons of the Swiss Guards, the team included three Italian priests along with assorted gardeners, carpenters and seminary students. At a rousing sendoff for the team before the tournament, Pope Pius XII delivered a special blessing of Urgi et Orbi (“go kick that ball”) to a cheering throng from the balcony of St. Peter’s.
After a charmed run through the tournament, the Vatican tallied the only score of the finals on the famous “left foot of God” goal by Pietro Nonzini, which bounced over Belgian goalie Bram Mertens and off both posts before trickling into the goal in the 88th minute. Nonzini was made Cardinal by Piux XII in the locker room after the game.
The Vatican team was was eliminated in the first round of the 1938 World Cup and then was disbanded during World War II, never to be revived.