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Italian great Del Piero wants to play on

Former Italy and Juventus great Alessandro Del Piero on Monday said he wants to play on, despite being 39 and without a club.

Italian great Del Piero wants to play on
Former Italy and Juventus great Alessandro Del Piero said he wants to play on, despite being 39 and without a club.Photo: Mal Fairclough/AFP

The 2006 World Cup winner failed to agree a new contract with Sydney FC at the end of last season but is back in Australia to captain an All Stars side
against his old club Juventus on Saturday.

Del Piero said he had been staying fit and wants to keep playing football for at least another year, but is yet to decide where or in what capacity.

Asked by reporters in Sydney whether it could be the last game of his career, Del Piero said: "No, I don't think so.

"It could be my last game in Australia, but I'm still in touch with the (Australian) federation and Sydney FC as well. I'm happy to be here and hope to stay in touch in the future."

Juventus' all-time leading goalscorer said there were currently two "big" but not definite options available to him.

"Now I have to choose exactly what is the best for me with the opportunities, but I want to play on," he added.

"It's my passion. I understand I can follow my passion until I'm 90 years old, but I think I'm in good shape to play for one more year and this is my idea."

The Italian great, who spent 19 years at Juventus, scoring 208 goals in 513 appearances before joining the A-League, said it would be emotional for him on Saturday.

"This is a special game, not only for me but for the Australian federation, all the players," he said.

"It will be, for sure, exciting to come face-to-face with my former team. I don't know what can happen, because it's a very unique situation."

Juventus have brought a full-strength team to Sydney for the match, including new recruit Patrice Evra, Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon, Carlos Tevez and Paul Pogba.

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FOOTBALL

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.

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