Bryan Ruiz (right) and his wife, Carolina, meet with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Wednesday.

Bryan Ruiz (right) and his wife, Carolina Jaikel, meet with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Wednesday.

QCOSTARICA | With his wife at his side, Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz smiled shyly, surprised by the congratulations of Pope Francis for his “substantial” contribution in the World Cup 2014 in Brazil.

The captain of the Tricolor (the Costa Rica national soccer team) had the opportunity to meet the Pontiff at the Vatican on Wednesday, for the announcement for the “Soccer for Peace,” an exhibition soccer game organized by the Pope with all-star players scheduled for May 29 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome.

“I had the privilege and honour to receive the invitation of Pope Francisco to participate in this special audience, which was also attended Ronaldinho. It’s a honour to be considered for such an important event that promotes the Pope such as the Party for Peace,” said Ruiz on his website.

Ruiz gave the leader of the Catholic Church two gifts: a shirt of the national team used in the last Gold Cup and a bag of Costa Rican coffee.

“My wife and I shared with the Pope, we spoke to him, was a very special encounter, a nice experience, he inspires much peace, “Ruiz said on his website.

The match is hosted by “Scholas Ocurrentes,” the Pontifical Academy for art, sports and technology to promote peace, as well as the Pupi Foundation, a charity founded by the Argentine soccer player Javier “Pupi” Zanetti. The first “Soccer for Peace” match took place on Sept. 1, 2014 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome.

Funds raised in 2014 went to charities. The current pope was very involved with the project when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. The decision to hold another match for peace follows a visit by Maradona to the Vatican last year.

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