'It's over'- dis­may, dis­be­lief as Italy to miss World Cup

The Freeman - - SPORTS -

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."

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Italy's for­ward Ciro Im­mo­bile re­act at the end of the FIFA World Cup 2018 qual­i­fi­ca­tion foot­ball match be­tween Italy and Swe­den at the San Siro sta­dium in Milan.

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