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LONDON — The front pages of Britain’s tabloid papers on Thursday welcomed Argentinean Pope Francis with references to Argentinean soccer legend Diego Maradona and the two countries’ conflict over the Falkland Islands.
In 1982, Argentina invaded the Falklands, which lie to the country’s East, amid a long-standing dispute over their status. Britain saw this as an invasion of a British dependent territory. In the end, Argentina backed down, but the conflict continues to be mentioned in cultural references in both countries.
The Sun, the tabloid that is part of Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp., on Thursday also mentioned the conflict in its coverage of the selection of a new pope. “Hand of God. Argie Pope Francis made call to reclaim Falklands,” its headline read.
“Hand of God” was a reference to Maradona, who used his hand to score a goal in the 1986 soccer World Cup clash between Argentina and England. At a press conference, Maradona later said that the goal was scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.”
The Daily Mirror also used the soccer reference in its headline: “New Hand of God: Argentina’s Cardinal Bergoglio chosen to become Pope Francis.”
The Financial Times, in an analysis piece, used a different play on words. “Pope with sandals comes scandal free,” its headline said. It argued that the new pontiff had two main qualities “that could work in his favor as he seeks to unite the Catholic Church.” One of the qualities is humility. The other: “he is free from any whiff of the ecclesiastical scandals that have dominated the headlines in recent times,” the FT said.
Meanwhile, U.K. tabloid Daily Mail took a different tack with its coverage. “‘Pray for me,’ begs 76-year-old Argentinian Jesuit Bergoglio as he is announced as 266th pontiff,” its headline said. The paper went on to wonder if the new pope would be able to “clean up this troubled church.”
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