International sports lawyer and chairman of British Swimming, Maurice Watkins CBE, had an audience with the Pope at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

Maurice was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Bolton in 2017 for services to sport.

As the Senior Partner and Head of Sports at Brabners LLP in Manchester, Maurice was accompanied by a delegation of international swimmers and officials to present Pope Francis with a framed swimming cap from the British team.

The visit was arranged by Paolo Berelli, who has excellent cultural links with the Vatican, as well as being President of both the European and Italian Swimming Federations. Maurice is also the Chairman of the European Swimming Legal Committee.

Maurice said: “It was an honour and the experience of a lifetime to meet his Holiness and to have the opportunity of presenting him with a framed British Swimming cap embossed with his name.”

In an address to the group, the Pope said that apart from achieving technical results, swimmers also offer a testimony of discipline, competition and teamwork. He declared that the language of sport is universal, and encouraged the swimmers to “send positive messages” through their activity.

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