Disclaimer: if you are Belgian, stop now. I apologize to your people.
Watching the Euro Cup in Italy is like watching the Super Bowl in the United States, but with less nachos and more attractive bearded men. Also, most people tune in for the soccer and not for Beyoncé and a touching commercial about large horses. Even for a group stage game between Italy and Belgium in the small town of Syracuse, shit got wild.
The aforementioned bearded men arrived early by the droves, wearing their blue Italia jerseys and filling the square behind Piazza San Rocco, where large screens spanned the length of the buildings. With Italy’s first goal, bells clanged throughout the square, people ran in from all sides to see what they had missed, and chants of “IT-AL-IA! IT-AL-IA! IT-AL-IA!” rang through the ears of the three Belgian fans standing shamefully in the back, their red scarves drooping sadly from their necks.
One particularly excitable youth seated next to me was a real fan of Italian keeper Buffon. I know this because he shrieked “BUFFON!” every time “BUFFON!” made a save and, in fact, every time the ball went anywhere near “BUFFON!” He was also a fan of yelling “Bastardo Belga!” every time a Belgian player fouled an Italian one. Or touched the ball. Or did anything.
Even this was not enough drama for the impassioned Italians. A last-minute goal prompted an eruption of madness that I can only liken to a Canadian hockey riot. Blue-clad people used chairs as trampolines, the “BUFFON!” guy flipped over tables, “baaaa baa ba ba ba baaaaaa baaaa” echoed throughout the city, townsfolk carried pitchforks and burning torches through the – okay, not that last part. This isn’t the Salem witch trials. But you get the idea.