Winning the Euro Cup 2021 was everything for Italians. It was a tense, edge-of-your-seat game, ending with a penalty kick shoot-out to finish the match. It was so exciting I almost couldn’t watch! Italians were seeking redemption for failing to gain entry to the World Cup in 2018. This win was also their first major international success for Italian soccer since the 2006 victory in the World Cup. It was thrilling to witness them reclaim the title! Aside from being their first Euro Cup win since 1968, the victory over England was extra special after overcoming the trauma from the pandemic last year. Covid 19 put a significant strain on the country overall. Italy suffered a major economic recession during the coronavirus and achieving this victory has helped the people feel hopeful again.
Futbol is a huge part of the Italian culture. The players are some of the most passionate, dedicated athletes and the victory celebrations are like none other. Growing up in Japan, soccer was not exactly on the radar of sports to watch. The first time I visited Italy, I was in complete culture shock over their infatuation with the game. The intense spirit of the fans was amazing to me. I had never experienced a sport that had such cultural significance as soccer did to the Italians. With the recent return of competitive sports, as well as the kick-off of the Tokyo Olympics, life is finally starting to feel normal again.
Watching the Opening Ceremonies the other night was very sentimental for me. I remembered how much my mother loved watching the Olympics, it was her absolute favorite. Seeing the event reminded me of the strength and hope of everyone around the world. It’s the first time different countries have been together in one place since the pandemic began. Although many were opposed to the event and even Japan was initially hesitant to host the games, I’m so glad they decided to move ahead. The Olympics are exactly what we all need and I’m looking forward to the excitement of the next few weeks!