‘Italia! Italia!’ Switzerland shaken by jubilant football fans

Italian fans in Lausanne celebrate their team's first European Championship since 1968. Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone

Thousands of Italian football fans celebrated their team’s victory at Euro 2020 on Sunday night by singing, chanting and honking their way through Swiss cities.

This content was published on July 12, 2021

Italians are the largest group of foreign residents in Switzerland, making up about 15% of the country’s 2.2 million foreigners. And at midnight on Sunday, after Italy beat England on penalties, it sounded like it.

Just a few seconds after the final whistle, the first fireworks went off in Zurich’s Langstrasse, which quickly turned into the scene of an open-air party bathed in red light. Most revellers were clearly tifosi, as Italian fans are known, toasting Italy’s first European Championship since 1968. Hardly any English fans were to be seen drowning their sorrows, but many people were there not so much for the result as for the party.

No tooting convoys could snake through Langstrasse as the area was closed to traffic, but car horns in Bern, Lausanne and Geneva got a thorough work-out.

Italian fans in Lausanne, who had been watching the final en masse in bars and on big screens in the streets, erupted when goalkeeper Donnarumma saved the last English penalty. Without even waiting for the trophy to be handed over, they gathered in various parts of the city, mainly in the Place de l’Europe, which filled up within minutes. Thousands of people chanted “Italia! Italia!” while waving flags. Fireworks also lit up the sky.

There were similar scenes in Geneva, where the tifosi first moved to a part of the Avenue du Mail, which runs along the Plainpalais. There, crowds cheered and waved to the cars that filed along the road. The police followed the celebrations from a distance but did not have to intervene.

In Bern, this SWI journalist can attest that Italians in the Swiss capital did not let the side down, driving around well into the early hours.

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