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As Italy takes on Spain in the UEFA European Football Championship tomorrow, members of the local Italian community will be cheering for Italy from the comfort of their homes.
Italy is one of the four countries that advanced to the semi-finals at Euro 2020. The tournament is held every four years but last year, it was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other three national teams that progressed to the semi-finals are England, Spain and Denmark.
Italy will face off Spain on Tuesday, while England and Denmark will meet on Wednesday. The finals will are on Sunday, July 11.
Porcupine Dante Club’s general manager Dominic Flaminio is a soccer fan who likes watching the Euros and the FIFA World Cup.
He said he plans to watch tomorrow’s match at home. It will be a big game because of the soccer rivalry that's been going on between Italy and Spain over the years, he said.
“Canada is great for immigrants. Canada is our country, we live here, we love what it stands for. But at the end of the day, when it comes to heritage, the Italian runs in our blood,” he said. “Italy and soccer go hand-in-hand.”
For the past few weeks, Flaminio has been following the tournament whenever he could because the games took place during the day.
“I’m still at work, so it’s been hard to watch the whole match,” he said.
Flaminio said he’s received calls from members asking if they could come to the hall to watch the game if Italy makes it to the finals. Because of the current gathering restrictions, people will be cheering from their homes, Flaminio said.
“We can’t get anybody here in the club. Due to the restrictions, we’re allowed five people indoors, so it’s not worth it,” he explained.
The year Italy won the World Cup, there was a big get-together at the Dante Club. There were appetizers and Italian food, and the hall was packed with about 200 people who watched the game on the big screen, according to Flaminio.
“It was great,” he recalled.
In Flaminio's opinion, the team’s current manager Roberto Mancini found the right mix of young and veteran players for the tournament. He said he’s happy with Italy’s team, which has 32 unbeaten matches and a 13-match winning streak.
Italy's national team won the Euro Cup once, in 1968.
Since the team missed the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which was a “big disappointment” for the Italian community, and Italy was one of the hardest-hit countries during the pandemic last year, it’d be great to win the Euro Cup again, Flaminio said.
“This will be just the icing on the cake if they can clench the Euro Cup,” he said.
Flaminio has been playing soccer all his life until his mid-30s when he had to stop due to his age and some injuries. What he likes about soccer is that anyone can play it regardless of age or sex.
“It brings the whole world together,” he said. “It’s a nice versatile sport.”
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com