Euro 2020: Expert discusses media’s reaction in Italy
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England’s bid to end their 55-year wait for silverware was put to an end yesterday evening. The team were defeated by a robust Italian side who, in a penalty shootout, edged the result with a 3-2 win. Italy were unbeaten in 33 matches before the final and crept their way back into the game after Luke Shaw’s second-minute opener.
While many in England continue to mourn the loss, still more in Europe celebrate the win that appears to have extended beyond sport.
Ahead of the final, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pledged her support for Italy despite being a self-confessed ‘Anglophile’ who lived in London as a student.
Her home team, Germany, were knocked out by England in a 2-0 defeat in the round of 16.
While the European Commission tries to stay neutral during sporting competitions between member states, Brexit has influenced many of the bloc’s top brass into emotional outbursts.
In 2018, England, Belgium, Croatia and France reached the semi-finals of the World Cup.
At the time, the UK was in the process of departing the EU, and in a provocative statement, Jean-Claude Juncker’s former spokesman Margaritis Schinas quipped: “Football is staying home in the European Union.”
After England’s semi-final against Croatia, Mr Juncker’s most trusted aide Martin Selmayr issued a gloating celebration as the Three Lions crashed out, posting a string of football emojis and EU flags just after the extra time defeat.
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During this year’s European Championship campaign, EU figureheads repeatedly attempted to dissuade UEFA and FIFA from allowing the finals to be held in the UK for concerns over rising coronavirus cases.
Italian PM Mario Draghi went as far as to call on European football’s governing body to move the match elsewhere after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced 60,000 fans would be in attendance.
Mr Schinas, who is now a European commissioner, told the European Parliament that he could not “personally” see the sense of the semi-finals and final being hosted in London.
He said: “I want to share my doubts about the possibility of organising the final and semi-finals at Wembley, in a packed stadium, at a time that the United Kingdom itself is limiting its citizens’ travel to the European Union.
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“I think UEFA needs to carefully analyse this decision… a decision that needs to be taken with full knowledge of the facts.”
Angela Merkel, the outgoing German Chancellor, also appeared to make efforts to thwart the UK’s chances.
She rolled out strict quarantine rules for travellers entering Germany, stirring fear that those who played at Wembley in the round of 16 would not be able to play in Germany in the quarter-finals.
As DW.com noted at the time: “Unless UEFA negotiates an exception, this game would seemingly not be able to take place as planned. London’s Wembley Stadium is hosting the semifinals and finals of the Euros.
“Additionally, it would appear that Germany players would have to quarantine for two weeks on their return to Germany should they play in the latter stages in London.
“There may be other major knock-on effects for teams playing in London and Glasgow who may end up playing in Munich.
“Non-German residents are currently not allowed in at all if coming from Britain.”
However, Mr Draghi, Mr Schinas and Mr Mrs Merkel’s efforts did not impact the tournament.
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