“Returning to Bergamo is a duty for football and a sign of hope for all supporters “, underlined at the end of September the president of the Italian Federation Gabriele Gravina by announcing the displacement of the match. The boss of Italian football then hoped for a few thousand tifosi, but the health situation will not allow it. The ceiling in Italy has been set at 1,000 spectators in stadiums since September and could soon be reduced. On Wednesday evening, the doors will remain closed to the public. But the mayors of the 243 municipalities of the province of Bergamo and a delegation representing the two main hospitals of the city, John XXIII and Humanitas, were invited.
The choice of the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium rather than the venerable San Siro of Milan is first and foremost pragmatic: to avoid playing this match behind closed doors in the largest stadium in Italy (75,000 seats). But by taking advantage of the barely completed renovation of the Bergamesque stadium, it demonstrates the solidarity of Italian football with this “symbol city” of the pandemic, according to the Federation. The province of Bergamo, the most affected by the coronavirus along with that of Brescia, occupies a special place in the country which was the first to be affected in Europe. The excess mortality in the city and its province has been estimated at nearly 7,000 deaths. Above all, no one forgot the images of military trucks carrying coffins, so many that they must have been crammed into churches.
Bergamo “determined to leave”
The Italian team will find a city “determined to leave” forward, “necessarily prudent but always hard-working, united, lively, strong, all the qualities that we expect from the Nazionale“, according to its mayor Giorgio Gori, quoted Tuesday in the Eco of Bergamo. The Azzurri, after training in Gdansk on Monday the day after their draw against Poland (0-0), arrived in the evening in Bergamo, where the Italian anthem has only sounded twice for the Nazionale: in 1987 for a victory against Malta (5-0) and in 2006 against Turkey (1-1). From the upper town, which overlooks the stadium, as from the nearby center, supporters will no doubt listen to “Fratelli d’Italia” with some regrets, the real reunion between the public and the players being postponed.
On the pitch, the only Atalanta player present for this symbolic evening will wear the orange jersey: the side Hans Hateboer, one of the spearheads of Gian Piero Gasperini’s team. His teammate in Bergamo as in the Oranje, Marten de Roon, is suspended after a second yellow card Sunday against Bosnia-Herzegovina (0-0). “To see a match of our national team in our city again, 14 years later, is an additional tribute to Bergamo and to all the Bergameses affected so hard by an invisible but devastating enemy“, for club president Antonio Percassi. “It is also a great source of pride and satisfaction: this objective has been achieved thanks to those who, for a year and tomorrow, are working to requalify the house of Atalanta.“, he greeted in September, when UEFA had just given the green light so that the stadium, after work at no charge, can host in a few weeks its first matches of the Champions League, against the ‘Ajax Amsterdam then Liverpool.