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FOOTBALL

‘It’s coming home – where?’ Six things Italy fans had to say ahead of the Euro 2020 final

From historical reminders to culinary corrections, here's what Italian football fans have been saying as they gear up for the Euro 2020 final on Sunday.

'It's coming home - where?' Six things Italy fans had to say ahead of the Euro 2020 final
Photo: Carl Recine/POOL/AFP

Italian pre-match banter can appear overwhelmingly good-natured, especially to people from some other football-mad European countries.

Part of this apparent friendliness though may be down to the tendency of some Italian fans to ‘gufare‘, or to praise opponents before a match in the hope of ‘jinxing’ them.

Still, Italian fans had a few points they wanted to make to England supporters before the two teams meet at Wembley on Sunday night.

Florence FC questioned which “home” football would be coming to, given that the city’s famously rough calcio storico predates the more genteel modern game by several hundred years. 

Some also pointed out that even England’s red-and-white flag of St George’s Cross originated nowhere other than… Genoa.

Meanwhile others are less concerned with the score and more with the health of Italy’s popular 79-year-old president, Sergio Mattarella, who is expected to join the Italian contingent in Wembley on Sunday night.

With new cases of the Covid Delta variant in the UK climbing into the thousands, the hashtag “President stay at home” began trending on Twitter.

After all, Italy is supposed to keep church and state separate (Chiesa, “Church”, being the surname of one of the Azzurri’s wingers). 

And former England striker Gary Lineker failed to impress Italian Twitter when he posted a photo of his culinary tribute to Italy on Saturday.

And no doubt Italian fans will have a few more food-related messages for the English before the tournament is over.

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SPORT

Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

Spain have been thrown out of the 2023 Rugby World Cup for fielding an ineligible South African-born player during the qualifying stages and will be replaced by Romania, World Rugby announced on Thursday.

Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

“Subject to Spain’s right of appeal, the 10-point deduction applied to the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification table means that Romania will qualify as Europe 2 into Pool B replacing Spain,” read the statement.

Portugal — who Spain beat to seal their place in the global showpiece in France next year — replace Romania in the Final Qualification Tournament taking place in November 2022.

“Spain has a right of appeal within 14 days of the date of the full written decision of the committee,” read the statement.

According to Spanish media in March, the player under investigation was South African-born prop Gavin van den Berg, who has been playing in Spain since 2018.

He played twice against the Netherlands, in 2020 and 2021, in qualifiers, but he may not seemingly have served the three years of residency needed to become eligible under World Rugby rules.

Spain, Romania and Belgium were all sanctioned in 2018 for having fielded ineligible players, opening the way for Russia to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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