Italy’s Euro 2020 Victory Echoes a Wider Resurgence

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ROME – A burst of pure joy all over Italy on Sunday after the national men’s soccer team beat England to win – and car horns, horn blowing and fireworks blasting and hugging, lots of hugs – euro 2020 tournament It was an extraordinary turnaround not only for a recently besieged team, but also for a recently besieged country.

But if The fierce, tireless and possibly invincible national team of Italy Uplifting the country’s morale after multiple lockdowns and incalculable suffering brought by a savage pandemic, it was only the last sign of a national resurgence.

Also Sunday, Matteo Berrettini became the first Italian to play in the men’s singles championship at Wimbledon. Shortly before appearing in court, Pope Francis showed his face first time since undergoing major colon surgery. In May, the Roman rock band maneskin She won the Eurovision song contest. And Habi TopalA 21-year-old boy near Turin has one of the world’s most followed accounts on TikTok.

The fate of Italy is sought not only symbolically, but also literally.

in February, a political crisis ditched the country his struggling prime minister and let Participation of Mario DraghiHe is the former head of the European Central Bank, whose high international status helped elevate Italy from a minor player on the European stage to a driving force. More than half of the country has received a dose of vaccine; restaurants, bars, parks and beaches have reopened. Billions of euros are on their way to the country as part of a major European coronavirus rescue package. Revisions once considered unimaginable, including the stripping of a crippling bureaucracy, now seem plausible.

This may have introduced significant changes Italy It is in a stronger position than its European neighbors, where political uncertainty and tension abound, but where nothing brings the country together or touches the communal, exuberant nerves like a major national football victory.

The inscrutable cries of Sunday night, Leonardo Bonucci’s equalizing goal in the second half and cheers for Gianluigi Donnarumma’s two saves from the penalty shootout., cries from Roman balconies, Bergamo piazzas and Sicilian beaches were turned into expressions of relaxation and returning life.

Even before the match, the country stood up. The Wimbledon final, in which Mr. Berrettini managed to get a set from Novak Djokovic, was a preparation for the main event. Waiters and waitresses with their faces painted in Italian colors offered copious amounts of beer to the fans waving Italian flags.

The open-air cinema in Rome’s Trastevere section interrupted the regularly scheduled program for the play (“A Perfect Day” by Ferzan Özpetek), and the turnout was huge, with thousands of people filling the square. Fans flocked to the grand squares, nuns stood in front of televisions, and families hugged flags and air horns.

“He was born the day Italy won the World Cup,” 52-year-old Carlo Alberto Pietrangeli said of 15-year-old Ester Aquilani, who hangs a flag on her shoulders. So did his 12-year-old cousin, Lorenzo Ciurleo, who refused to wave the flag until the finals for fear of bad luck.

“If we had lost,” he said, swallowing.

But they didn’t lose, and if anyone was hoping to sleep in the coming days, they could basically forget about it.

Past celebrations have not been without emotional undercurrents and pent-up disappointment, if the latest team’s World Cup victory in 2006 matched Sunday night’s decibel-level revel.

“The national team is the symbol of a country that always knows how to stand up in difficult times,” said the team’s coach, Roberto Mancini, before the tournament started and while Italy was still in quarantine.

It is remarkable that the Italian football team showed the country that it can pick up, dust off and beat the rest of Europe.

Italy at the end of 2017 He failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years., which he won four times. “National Shame” and “Apocalypse” both make headlines in a country where the game is so central to its national identity, and humiliation leads to an existential crisis. Months later, an anti-European coalition by Matteo Salvini nationalist League party and populist and anti-establishment Five Star Movement choosed Giuseppe ConteA little-known law professor will rule the country.

This was followed by years of political drama, often mind-blowing incompetence, rapprochement with Donald Trump and threatening the European Union. Coalitions changed, but Mr Conte remained, and then in February 2020 the first major coronavirus outbreak in the West exploded in northern Italyturning parts of the country into a killing field, paralyzing the economy and forcing large segments of daily life, including football stadiums, to close.

Under Mr. Draghi, about 58 percent of Italians received at least one dose of the vaccine, and the country’s nationalists and anti-establishment forces joined his government.

Before the team brought home the title, Mr. Draghi had tried to bring the championship game to Rome.

Last month, he tried to slide the final from London’s Wembley Stadium due to the Delta variant breaking out. In a not-so-subtle dig at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who supports Brexit, Mr. Draghi suggested that the final be moved to “a country where new coronavirus infections are not increasing”.

But no one expected Italy and its mostly young and inexperienced team to make it to the final at Wembley, where Mr Mancini lost the 1992 European Cup final against Barcelona with the Sampdoria team in the days he played.

However, the team’s captain, veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini, noted that the team had a “chemistry” that was “a kind of magic”. As the team continued to win, more and more Italians began to believe.

Made Italy after Mr Donnarumma’s irresistible penalty kicks and a diving block European champions, England’s fans couldn’t believe it.

The men’s team hadn’t won a major championship in 55 years or even made it to a grand finale, but this team had promise, youth, diversity and social awareness and seemed to reflect a complex, multicultural England that was sometimes lost in tribal debates. On Brexit. The team united a country that has spent most of the last four and a half years debating with itself about leaving the European Union and has spent most of the past 15 months under lockdowns from the coronavirus.

95-year-old Queen II. Elizabeth reminded in a letter to the team’s manager that she was ready to present the World Cup to her predecessor 55 years ago. More than 70 percent of the UK population was born after this championship. And many more will be born before finishing the losing streak.

The British flag that 25-year-old Rosie Mayson painted on her face was wiped with tears.

“I’m devastated,” he said in London, “we didn’t bring him home.”

Veterans of dashed British hopes tried to console their young supporters. “Don’t be sad,” 50-year-old James McDonald told a group of British teenagers. “It’s very typical English: hope and then losing on penalties on a rainy day.”

The fans in Rome needed no consolation. They tore their shirts, Italian flags appeared on their chests. “This is us. We are us,” they said, circling their blue fire sticks, illuminating their faces. “We are the European champions”

A stream of fans flowed through the streets of Rome, many traffic lights, garbage bins, and climbing over each other’s shoulders. Cars honking their horns blocked the streets as if it were a jolly traffic jam. Fireworks illuminated a city that did not sleep.

“The best thing of my life,” said 20-year-old Daniele Pace, dressed in Italy’s blue national jersey and with a flag on his hip. “This is the best thing that can happen to us after COVID.” He said the win against England was “even better”. They’re not even part of the European Union.”

The government was a little more diplomatic.

Mr. Draghi’s usually sober press office made a statement in the Italian colors green, white and red, saying that the prime minister would receive the team tomorrow in his office “to thank on behalf of the entire government”.

As all of Italy celebrated, the team had a great time on the field where they joined Wimbledon finalist Mr. Berrettini.

Mr Bonucci described the victory as “a dream come true”. He said England thought the trophy went home, but went to Rome instead. “I’m sorry for them,” he told Italian television after the match. “But Italy is teaching a lesson once again.”

Mark Landler and Elian Peltier Contributing reports from London, Emma Bubola from Rome.

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