di Marcello Mento
Rome, December 16 - Pope Francis's favourite soccer team, San Lorenzo, clinched the Argentine league title on Sunday with a 0-0 draw at Velez Sarsfield. The draw enabled the Buenos Aires team to seal the Inicial championship with 33 points from 19 matches, two more than Velez, outgoing champions Newell's Old Boys and Lanus. The triumph has been described as an early birthday present for the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, who turns 77 on Tuesday. It was San Lorenzo's 12th league title in the professional era and first since the 2007. Unlike European leagues, the Argentine season is split between two championships - the Inicial (former Apertura) played in the second half of the year, starting in August, and the Final (ex-Clausura) in the first half of the following year. Francis, an avid soccer fan, has not only remained loyal to his club, but is faithful in his membership dues payments, paying "religiously", said San Lorenzo vice-president Marcelo Tinelli earlier this year. Some fans have said it is no coincidence that the team's form has been strong since Francis was elected to the helm of the Catholic Church in March.