Vienna - The Vatican called off a friendly football match involving its new women's team in Vienna over the weekend after several Austrian players protested the church's anti-abortion stance.
The game between the Vatican side founded this year and a Vienna outfit was cancelled Saturday when several Austrians lifted their shirts to reveal pro-choice messages painted on their stomachs and backs when the anthems were played before kick-off, media reports said.
"The game was called off because we are here for the sport, and not for political or other messages", public broadcaster ORF quoted Danilo Zennaro, a representative of the Vatican sports association, as saying.
A player from the Austrian capital's Mariahilf women's team said they hadn't expected the protest action to lead to the game to be scrapped.
The Vatican's Vienna representative could not immediately be reached on Sunday for comment.
The Vatican women's team was formed earlier this year, more than three decades after the men's side.
Austrian media said the Vienna clash was supposed to be the Vatican women's first international tie.