‘It’s over’: Dismay, disbelief as Italy miss World Cup
ROME: Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years was greeted by a mixture of disbelief, dismay and resigned disappointment by fans across the country.
In Rome’s trendy San Lorenzo district, the Le Mura bar, which showed Monday night’s playoff crunch with Sweden on a big screen, emptied at the final whistle after a goalless stalemate which condemned the Azzurri to a 1-0 aggregate defeat.
“It is really very sad because watching the World Cup was something that really brought us together as Italians,” said recent graduate Stefania Pusateri, heading for the exit.
“But what is sure is that the shock will be even worse for my father. He is 54 years old and he has never had to go through something like this.”
Sitting alongside Pusateri, friend Davide Penna concurred. “I still can’t believe it has happened,” he said. “We have never experienced anything like this. It’s over.”
Similar sentiments were voiced by fans coming out of the San Siro stadium in Milan after Monday’s 0-0 draw.
“I am disappointed with the whole football system in Italy,” said Mirko Palmieri. “It is the umpteenth failure of our country. Even here (at the San Siro), we can’t get the job done.”
Italy not being at the World Cup will be a new experience for most of the country’s fans, and few of them are looking forward to the experience of watching from the sidelines.
The four-time champions opted not to play at the first World Cup in 1930 but they have been present at every other edition apart from 1958, when they also failed to qualify.
“I was born with Italy being a part of the World Cup, and it has always been like that,” one supporter told AFP on his way out of the Milan stadium.
“Tomorrow I will wake up and my life will go on but this summer I will do something else.”
Another added: “The disappointment is a double one -first because we are not good, but second because we were beaten by a team that is even worse than us.”
Back in the Rome bar, the view that Italy deserved to be on the plane to Russia was disputed by journalism student Christian Dalenz. - AFP