Italian consul general Joel Melchiori. (Amit Datta)
Italian consul general Joel Melchiori speaks to Metro about being bested by Spain, being the second best team in Europe and the Euro Cup experience in India and Italy.
Euro Cup in Calcutta
There was a lot of excitement about the match among the Italian community in Calcutta. We organised a small gathering in a room at one of the hotels in the city. Around 25 of us watched the match together, Italians and friends of the consulate here.
It was anyway a good opportunity to get together. Of course, we lost, very definitely, but it was a great match. It was a tough match between two very strong teams but the Spanish team was much stronger and in better shape.
I think the Italian team is very strong and it did a great job to fight its way to the championship finals. Especially, the semi-final match with Germany.
So I think we can be happy that we got the second place and that we are the second best team in Europe now. It is a big satisfaction for us.
We have to recognise that Spain was a stronger team and definitely played better.
There was huge excitement and a big sense of expectation among us. The staff from the consulate were there as were the employees of an Italian company here.
I knew there were a lot of supporters of Italy in Calcutta. A lot of Indian friends called me yesterday and I was very happy to see their support and love, which we should be able to repay.
Italy had different occasions where they could get back into the game but the strategy and the tactics of the Spanish team was in the end more successful and the Italians could not get through them.
Losing Thiago Motta was a blow but it was almost at the end of the game. In general, what happened was that the strategy behind the game set up by the Spanish was stronger. And after the first goal the defence of the Italians was not strong enough and I think that was one of the reasons why we lost the match.
But it was an exciting game. We were all very excited but at the end of the game we were very depressed. But that is also the pleasure of football, it keeps surprising you.
Euro Cup in Italy
We were also in touch with our friends and families back home in Italy, where they had set up screens in the public squares. It was one of biggest events of the year.
Mario Balotelli is a very important person nowadays in Italy together with another Mario, our Prime Minister (Mario Monti). So the two Marios are now the most well known people in Italy!
I just spoke to a friend in Rome. There were more than 2 lakh people in main squares in Rome, not to mention the other ones and the small provinces where there were giant screens in the piazzas with people watching the match together in the pleasant summer evening
It is a social moment. When the national team plays, whether it is the World Cup or the Euro Cup, there is a sense of participation from north to south, which is touching. For one night the country comes to stop, the streets are packed, no cars move.
There is also a particular meaning to watching this match together here in Calcutta because I strongly believe that sports is a strong bridge between countries and particularly in Calcutta, I could feel how the people like sports, especially football. I saw the kids playing the game when I visited the Italian-linked NGOs, how excited they were and how much they loved it.
We have also had exchanges between teams of the two countries in different sports. Last year, the Italian team played polo here in December. It is a great opportunity for knowing a country that is different from Italy from inside.
It is a unique opportunity and we are committed to providing more such opportunities to building a relation between the two countries through sports.