Euro 2020: Italy beats Turkey at the start of the delayed tournament

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Euro 2020: Italy beats Turkey at the start of the delayed tournament


Italy beat Turkey 3-0 in the opening game of the delayed Euro 2020 football tournament, the biggest sporting event in the world since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Azzurri made a deserved breakthrough eight minutes into the second half of Friday’s game when Domenico Berardi hit the byline and Merih Demiral turned into his own net.

Ciro Immobile ended defensive Turkey’s unlikely equalizer chances in the 66th minute, while Lorenzo Insigne added a third.

The tournament started a year later than expected due to the pandemic, but Italian supporters at the Olympic stadium in Rome, open to 25% of its capacity, had much to celebrate. Fans had to have proof of vaccination, test negative, or have had COVID-19 in the past.

The Italian capital is one of 11 cities that will host football matches during the month-long event.

“After all that has happened, now that the situation is improving I think the time has come to start providing the fans with something to be happy with,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini told reporters ahead of the game.

Fans from Turkey and Italy in the stands before the match [Filippo Monteforte/Reuters]

More than a million Europeans have died in the pandemic, including nearly 127,000 Italians. Some 3.7 million people have lost their lives around the world.

The tournament was postponed to March 2020 when countries scrambled to contain outbreaks of the virus and major sporting events around the world were canceled or suspended.

Mark Doyle, associate editor of articles at Goal.com, said that just hosting the tournament was a major victory in and of itself.

“If you had asked me two or three months ago if Rome would be able to organize a match, I would have told you no, the numbers were still too high,” he told Al Jazeera.

“It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t been deeply affected by the loss of a loved one… so just bringing the fans into the stadium, I think that’s a huge achievement.” , did he declare.

While many fear that it will still not be safe to gather large numbers of fans in stadiums across Europe, organizers hope measures including crowd restrictions, staggered arrival times for fans and rules physical distancing, among others, will help prevent a resurgence of viral infections, which have fallen sharply in Europe in recent months.

A general view of the opening ceremony before the match [Andrew Medichini/Reuters]

Unknown ramifications

If all goes well, Euro 2020 may restore confidence in other major sporting events such as the Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled to open on July 23 – also a year late. If not, it would be a serious setback that could have ramifications beyond football.

COVID-19 has already had an effect on the tournament, which for the first time is not hosted by one or two nations but is spread across the continent.

Spain captain Sergio Busquets has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the team’s first game against Sweden in Sevilla on Monday. Another Spanish player has tested positive, as have two Swedish players. The Spanish team was vaccinated on Friday.

Russian winger Andrey Mostovoy went on to become the first player to be banned from a national team on Friday after testing positive.

Italy’s opener against Turkey will bring together the largest crowd in the country since its full lockdown 15 months ago, even though the stadium will only be filled to 25% of its capacity.

In Rome and elsewhere in Italy, most virus restrictions have been lifted. A midnight curfew and the requirement to wear a mask outside one’s home are the most tangible ways the pandemic is still affecting the daily lives of citizens.

A young fan from Italy sits in a protective mask in Rome [Yara Nardi/Reuters]



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