Mourinho in conversation with Tolentino: war in Ukraine is a failure of humanity

The Pope recalled at the General Audience this Wednesday (6) that sport can open “paths of harmony between peoples”. In the conversation between Cardinal Tolentino and José Mourinho, from the Roma team, these values ​​for the education of young people were praised, but also the relationship with God and the inspiring figure of Francis, in addition to the war in Ukraine: “a failure in all levels of humanity”, said the Portuguese coach.

Andressa Collet – Vatican News

“Today is the World Day of Sport for Peace and Development, convened by the United Nations. I address myself to the men and women of sport so that, through their activity, they can be active witnesses of fraternity and peace. Sport, with its values, can play an important role in the world, opening paths of harmony between peoples, as long as it never loses its capacity for gratuitousness: sport for sport’s sake, and not become commercial; that amateurism that is typical of true sport.”

So reminded the Pope Francis at the end of the General Audience this Wednesday, April 6th and International Day of Sport for Peace and Development of the UN. The day before, the newspaper L’Osservatore Romano published a conversation between Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, archivist and librarian at the Vatican, and the coach of the Roma football team (AS Roma Calcio), José Mourinho, spoke of the values ​​of sport and education for young people, but also of dramatic themes with the war in Ukraine.

The unprecedented meeting between the two Portuguese personalities at the Vatican Apostolic Library took place on March 29. The conversation in their mother tongue, which lasted almost an hour, was also facilitated by the connection with the Portuguese philosopher Manuel Sérgio. According to Cardinal Tolentino, “a thinker in the field of sport, of human motricity” and who writes regularly in a sports newspaper (“A Bola”), and not in a philosophical magazine.

In fact, Manuel Sérgio was the first teacher that Mourinho came across at the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, in the discipline of “Philosophy of Corporal Activities”, who taught in a “concrete and direct way: those who only understand football, do not understand football”. anything”. And, since then, between the two, “it is a relationship that has not ended, it is a relationship that continues…”, “in a permanent process of learning”, commented Mourinho, who, before being a high-performance coach, was a teacher.

When challenged to work with children with motor problems and psycho-emotional disorders, he confessed that he was not prepared from a technical point of view:

“I managed to work well just based on one very simple thing: love, empathy, human relationships. And I achieved unimaginable things for myself that I considered myself very incapable from a technical point of view to work with those children. I got amazing things just based on human relationships. And me transferring that to my work for the last 20 years, in sport at the highest level, I’ve always had that as a basic principle. I’m not saying I’ve always been successful, but I’ve always had that as a base and Manuel Sérgio was fundamental.”

When talking about the “waste of talent” in football, Mourinho commented on the need to seek to be “a pedagogue to the end”: “high-performance sport, particularly football, which is the most industrialized sport at all levels, has something of cruel”. And Cardinal Tolentino added:

“But that of not giving up, of helping each one to be born, to discover, to mature, to develop their talent… It is interesting that one of Jesus’ parables is about talents: and this need for each not to your talent, but mature your vocation. Each of us was born with a set of skills and competences, and they can greatly transform your life”.

The librarian then praised how “the game” is “humanly rich” and quoted Roger Caillois who says that “the game is a kind of mirror of everything that is human”. And, in the playful dimension of sport, something fundamental in the human is touched. “Extremely beautiful”, added Mourinho, who helps to value even the people he loves most in the world, his family, and his relationship with God:

“I’m opening up to you, and consequently opening up to the world, but it’s a very intimate thing. And without a doubt, football is not, as people think, my life, it’s just an important part of my life, but there is another part that is much more important than football. And in my humility, but at the same time wanting to maintain an intimate relationship with Him, I like to maintain an almost friendship relationship with Him, where we almost call ourselves ‘You’.”

Cardinal Tolentino – “And it is not by chance that, in recent years, Professor Manuel Sérgio ends all the interviews saying that what he needs most is God. This is something that touches me, in my relationship with him, and every time I have the opportunity to listen to him. Do you think this link between overcoming and transcendence is also relevant to his vision?”

Mourinho – “It’s something that, in a more abstract way, I talk to players on occasions. Obviously I don’t go into the field of religion, also because I have in front of me 25 men with different traditions, different beliefs, but I call it the ‘plus’ sign, which can make a difference. And what can make a difference is a common belief, in what and in whom everyone will say yes. If you have free will, you believe in what you want, more or less in the divine, but the ‘plus’ always comes from this area that you don’t touch, but you feel, it’s abstract. I believe, for example, that in the preparation for a competition at the highest level, which involves pressure, responsibility, where you have to overcome or transcend, you have to put something more than you trained or prepared yourself, and I believe that something else is very connected to their spirituality, which fundamentally feeds into the ‘plus’ sign.”

Coach Mourinho also spoke of his special relationship with Fátima, as a point of reference in the faith, and, currently, with Praça São Pedro: both places he visits at night, in silence, since he is considered a well-known person and, in Rome, “the mask helps and so does the darkness of the night”. When addressing the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, a “sort of tunnel of despair”, described Tolentino, Mourinho quoted the Pontiff:

“His Holiness Pope Francis says that war is a failure of humanity, of politicians. I think exactly that, in fact I think it’s even a failure of humanity, even before I say it’s a political failure. It is a brutal failure, it is principles that were lost or not developed, it was the evolution of human thought in the wrong direction. It is something that is difficult to explain. It is a failure on all levels of humanity. It is our failure.”

Cardinal Tolentino – “Is Pope Francis an inspiring figure for you?”

Mourinho – “IT’S. He is an inspirational figure to me because I can look at him and, without having obviously had the honor of meeting him, but I listen to him and I never tire of hearing him. I hear and see it again in its simplicity. I see it on television, speaking on Sunday morning at the Angelus, and I think that if I had him in ‘my’ church in Setúbal, I would hear him in the same way. This man “is not the Pope”, institutional figure of the Vatican, is a father, a priest of a small parish in our little Portugal. I see that simplicity in him, and I think he is able to empathize with people with a faith that is completely different from ours.”


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