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De Rossi joins growing Azzurri injury list

Roma's Daniele De Rossi has joined Italy's growing injury list for their friendly against Portugal, four days after the Azzurri kept their Euro 2016 qualifying hopes alive in a controversial 1-1 draw away to Croatia.

De Rossi joins growing Azzurri injury list
AS Roma's Daniele De Rossi has joined Italy's growing injury list for their friendly against Portugal. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Midfielder De Rossi, who missed Friday's match in Split with an as yet unspecified injury, failed to pass a fitness test during training earlier on Sunday and has been ruled out of Tuesday's game in Geneva.

A statement by the Italian football federation (FIGC) said: “The Roma midfielder's evaluation by medical staff after training confirmed his unavailability for the match in Geneva, and he will leave the camp.”

Italy coach Antonio Conte is already without goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (cut knee) and defender Lorenzo De Silvestri (knee), who both picked up knocks against Croatia.

De Silvestri, notably, is facing several months on the sidelines after suffering anterior cruciate knee ligament damage less than half an hour into the game. Reports on Sunday said he has already undergone surgery.

The result left Croatia top of Group H with their two-point lead on Italy intact and helped them the Azzurri avoid being overtaken by Norway, who were held to a scoreless draw in Oslo by Azerbaijan and remain third two points further adrift.

But Niko Kovac's men are in dire straits.

Croatia is sweating on possible Uefa sanctions in relation to the latest affair to embarrass the country's football federation (HNS) and blacken the reputation of the country's fans.

During Friday's game a giant swastika was visible on the pitch at the Poljud Stadium, the home of top Croatian league side Hajduk Split. It is believed to have been chemically-burned into the pitch and was still visible at the final whistle despite attempts by ground workers to remove it.

The incident, which is being investigated by police, is the latest in a long line – involving violence and racist behaviour – to have heaped embarrassment

Friday's game was played behind closed doors, in a virtually empty stadium as punishment for fan violence and racist incidents when Croatia played Norway earlier in the qualifying campaign.

Last November, fan violence and the throwing of rocket flares on to the pitch marred the Italy v Croatia qualifier at the San Siro stadium in Milan, which finished 1-1 following an interruption of several minutes.

A spokesman for the HNS, Tomislav Pacak, said of the swastika incident: “This was an obvious act of sabotage and a criminal act. We condemn it and ask the police and judicial bodies to find the person(s) responsible for what is a shame not only for Croatian football, but the entire country.”

A Uefa spokesman told AFP it was awaiting the reports of the referee and the body's match delegate before deciding whether to open an investigation.

Italy's absences, meanwhile, could prove costly ahead of meeting a Portugal side for whom Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in their 3-2 Euro 2016 qualifying win away to Armenia.

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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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