Ancestry keeps Italy in the World Cup

Italy's national football team was booted out of the World Cup earlier this week, but the nation's ancestry is so far keeping the country on the pitch.

Ancestry keeps Italy in the World Cup
A football fan reacts after watching Italy lose to Uruguay in the World Cup. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The Azzurri may have crashed out of the World Cup at the group stage, but some of their distant Italian relatives are still in the tournament.

According to data mapped by designer James Offer, three other World Cup teams have players with Italian heritage.

Brazil 2014: Visualising ancestral and international connections between teams

Brazil 2014: Visualising ancestral and international connections between teams. Image: James Offer

Rémy Cabella may be playing for France, for example, but his father hails from across the border in Italy. Although it may pain them to do so, Italians may do well to switch support to the neighbouring nation, which is currently top of Group E.

Tailing France is Switzerland, whose goalkeeper Diego Benaglio has Italian grandparents. The Swiss side may also attract other dejected fans, as its squad is the most international in the World Cup – with connections to 13 other countries.

Unfortunately, languishing at the bottom of Group B is the most Italian team outside of Italy: Australia. Three of the squad’s midfielders – Mark Bresciano, Massimo Luongo and James Troisi – have Italian fathers.

The Australian side comes second to Switzerland for its global heritage, well above Italy itself, which has connections to just three other countries.

Striker Mario Balotelli, born in Italy and raised by an Italian couple, has Ghanaian parents.

Thiago Motta moved to Italy at the age of 15 after starting life in Brazil; having Italian grandparents made him eligible for citizenship.

A third Italian waited until his footballing career was off the ground before choosing to switch allegiances.

Buenos Aires-born Gabriel Paletta won the under-20s World Cup back in 2005 with Argentina, before tracing his grandfather’s nationality and joining the Italy side for the first time this year.

SEE ALSO: Italian of the week – the coach who took Italy to Brazil

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Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.