Ecstatic soccer fans fill the streets of Little Italy after Euro 2020

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Fans of Italy’s soccer team flooded the streets of Montreal’s Little Italy after Sunday’s EUFA Euro 2020 final, waving flags and chanting. Author of the article:

Michelle Lalonde, The Canadian Press  o  Montreal Gazette

Italy fans in the Little Italy area of Montreal celebrate win over England Euro 2020 final game on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Photo by John Kenney /Montreal Gazette

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While England fans were devastated, Montreal’s Little Italy erupted with joy and pride Sunday evening after Italy defeated England in the Euro 2020 final. The green, white and red flag of Italy — Il Tricolore — was everywhere in Little Italy after the win.

Some wore it painted on their smiling faces, others hung it like a cape down their backs, some wore tricoloured baseball or cowboy hats and many waved it from the cars and trucks and motorcycles that slowly snaked through the congested streets. Proud fans of all ages sported blue shirts, like the uniform of their team. The cacophony of car horns, cheers and chants of “Italia” filled the entire neighbourhood.

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  1. Ecstatic soccer fans fill the streets of Little Italy after Euro 2020

    Italy fans in the Little Italy area of Montreal celebrate win over England Euro 2020 final game on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Photo by John Kenney /Montreal Gazette

  2. Italy fans in the Little Italy area of Montreal celebrate win over England Euro 2020 final game on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Photo by John Kenney /Montreal Gazette

  3. Italy fans in the Little Italy area of Montreal celebrate win over England Euro 2020 final game on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Photo by John Kenney /Montreal Gazette

  4. Italy fans in the Little Italy area of Montreal celebrate win over England Euro 2020 final game on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Photo by John Kenney /Montreal Gazette

  5. Italy fans in the Little Italy area of Montreal celebrate win over England Euro 2020 final game on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Photo by John Kenney /Montreal Gazette

  6. Italy fans in the Little Italy area of Montreal celebrate win over England Euro 2020 final game on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Photo by John Kenney /Montreal Gazette

  7. Italy fans in the Little Italy area of Montreal celebrate win over England Euro 2020 final game on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Photo by John Kenney /Montreal Gazette

  8. Italy fans in the Little Italy area of Montreal celebrate win over England Euro 2020 final game on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Photo by John Kenney /Montreal Gazette

  9. Italy fans in the Little Italy area of Montreal celebrate win over England Euro 2020 final game on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Photo by John Kenney /Montreal Gazette

  10. Italy fans in the Little Italy area of Montreal celebrate win over England Euro 2020 final game on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Photo by John Kenney /Montreal Gazette

  11. Italy fans in the Little Italy area of Montreal celebrate win over England Euro 2020 final game on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Photo by John Kenney /Montreal Gazette

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Near the Parc de la Petite-Italie at St-Laurent Blvd. and St-Zotique St., police closed the streets to vehicular traffic. Fans gathered close together to wave their flags and cheer, the pandemic seemingly a distant memory. Some chugged champagne from the bottle, while others sprayed the crowd.

On Clark St., a father stood in his front garden with three little girls clad in pyjamas and cheering at the passing cars with all their might. One blew a whistle, another waved a hand-coloured flag of Italy, and the third chanted “Viva l’Italia!” while pumping her fists in the air. Police were present in numbers but, at least in the early part of the evening, the mood of the crowd was joyous loud and proud.

“It’s amazing,” said Daniel Rus, 31, who watched the game in the heart of Little Italy. “Obviously all the TVs were taken, there’s such a crowd here, but … it was awesome. It was a good time.”

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The Toronto resident was one of thousands who turned out for what restaurants had fully expected to be one of the busiest days since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Owners of Italian restaurants and English pubs said they were prepared for their patios to fill up, at least to the capacity allowed under remaining rules meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. The game was England’s first time in the final of a major international competition since winning the 1966 World Cup, so supporters also lined up outside British pubs across Canada.

England national football team fans in Montreal react to their team’s loss in a penalty shootout that had Italy claim the Euro 2020 crown on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Photo by Peter McCabe /MONTREAL GAZETTE

Pub Bishop & Bagg was in a somewhat unusual situation. The British-style pub is located near Little Italy, so manager Megan Turcotte expected to see supporters of both teams.

“People are super excited, it brings everyone together,” she said. “They drink a lot and they are loud. Some even sit in the streets and watch from afar on our televisions.”

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Roland Lamote said he played soccer when he was younger, but now watching the games keeps him going.

He’s lived in Little Italy his whole life, so rooting for Italy feels like supporting his home team, he said. “With the Montreal Canadiens, I was so, so, so disappointed,” Lamote said, referring to their loss in the Stanley Cup final. “But at least we have this football game now.” Italy last won the European Championship in 1968.

They reached the finals in 2000 and 2012 but lost to France and Spain respectively. At Cafe Gelato, where bottles of Aperol punctuated the patio bar, hundreds of fans in blue soccer jerseys and the odd centurion costume gathered outside the venue on St-Laurent Blvd. to watch the showdown and chant “Italia” between bouts of nail biting. Up the street, Ferdinando Anceschi, 57, parked in the heart of Little Italy for a one-man tailgate in his flag-festooned pickup truck.

“May the best team win,” he said, plugging in a screen on the truck bed a few hours before horn honks would echo down the boulevard. “Hopefully Italy wins, it’s going to be a big party here, everybody’s going to be happy.”

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References

  1. ^ Local News (montrealgazette.com)
  2. ^ International Soccer (montrealgazette.com)
  3. ^ Community Guidelines (pages.postmedia.com)
  4. ^ email (pages.postmedia.com)