Euro 2020: EU-based England fans revel in Rome

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“I made the journey from Amsterdam today,” Netherlands-based Englishman Ryan Wilkins told DW. “We don’t get an opportunity like this very often, do we? The England-based England fans will have the semifinal so this is a rare moment for the English that are living in Europe. We usually get forgotten about these days!”

There are 1.3 million Britons living in the EU, and it felt like half of them were at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night. With the delta variant accounting for more than 90% of UK cases of COVID-19 and threatening to rage, the two-week quarantine period for arrivals in Italy made it almost impossible for UK-based England fans to make the trip.

As the delta covid variant rages in the UK, the European Championship quarterfinal between England and Ukraine was sealed off to fans from England.

Such is England’s impressive progress at this tournament, that those ‘native’ fans will still have a semifinal and potentially a final too at London’s Wembley Stadium. But this 4-0 statement win in Rome was as impressive on the field as it was a rare demographic spectacle off it.

‘It’s Coming Home’

Away from the raucous energy of Wembley Stadium a few days ago, where England beat Germany, this was a potentially tricky affair for the English. On neutral soil against a team that had just beaten Sweden and have been making strides under coach Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine were ready to cause an upset.

England are confident under coach Gareth Southgate though, and inside the stadium that confidence was seen among the fans too. Whether they sang the England anthem ‘It’s Coming Home’ or the Gareth Southgate song, best described as an adapted version of ‘Whole Again’ by Liverpool-based pop group Atomic Kitten, spirits were high.

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