After the grand finale, came the mourning after; if you are an England fan, that is.
Leaving aside the lottery of penalty shootouts – a lottery which England never seem to win – Italy have been the best side over the course of the competition and, on the night, few would argue with the fact that they were the better team.
However disappointed England fans are, including this reporter, they can take solace in the fact that their squad was the competition’s youngest and will only get better. Roll on 2022.
In Rome, meanwhile, the Italian footballers arriving with the Henri Delauney trophy got their hero’s welcome and street parties.
Italy has been one of the European countries most badly hit by the pandemic both in terms of the death toll and economic costs, and there’s a certain karma to an Italian win. That’s why sport, despite its triviality, matters and is so precious, even though its feel-good effect will quickly wear thin once the post-pandemic reality starts to bite.
But last night’s game did not come without costs.
Firstly, it is hard to imagine that a full Wembley, not to mention the full pubs, bars, and hundreds of events across England and Italy, and the celebrations in the latter, will not result in a spike of COVID cases.
More serious, and regrettable, is that not everyone is blessed with a sense of grace.
That a bunch of Neanderthal idiots – editorial standards, alas, preclude more accurate descriptions of these people – subjected the three black English players who missed penalties to racist abuse is a reminder that online regulation needs to be tougher to make criminal prosecution for such hate speech the norm.
But neither this abuse nor the several thousand thugs who breached security to get into Wembley without tickets should take the shine off a month of pleasure and much overdue escapism.
For the most part, the tournament brought out the best in the continent, not to mention a welcome return to normalcy after 18 months of lockdown, illness and death.
The idea of hosting games across a plethora of different countries and venues was far from ideal in the middle of a pandemic, but it is a good one. UEFA boss Aleksandar Ceferin has already said he would not support another multi-country tournament, but perhaps they should reconsider, once the pandemic is over.
Notti Magiche (Magic Nights) was one of the songs sung by Italian fans last night and this morning. We all need magic nights. Last night was theirs. Bravi Azzurri.
The European Commission will next week put forward a mandate to negotiate a post-Brexit relationship with Gibraltar that would bring Frontex agents to its territory to avoid a hard border with Spain.
TV showman Slavi Trifonov, whose party narrowly won Sunday’s snap general elections in Bulgaria, surprisingly proposed a minority government without any coalition partners. The fragmented new parliament appears to have little choice but to accept it, or risk new elections in the poorest EU country.
A two-day pan-European matchmaking event hosted by the European Commission in a bid to mobilise the development and production of therapeutics to help those suffering from COVID-19 began on Monday (12 July).
The French government has said it will make the COVID-19 jab compulsory for the healthcare sector and other professionals this week on the back of ongoing debate over mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers elsewhere in the EU. EURACTIV France reports.
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- Commission President Ursula von der Leyen receives Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki.
- Vice-President Frans Timmermans participates in the Youth Climate and Sustainability Round Table, at the European Economic and Social Committee.
- Vice-President Josep Borrell chairs the EU-Bosnia and Herzegovina Stabilisation and Association Council.