'Great to share the ups and downs with everyone': Camden's Euro 2020 final
- Credit: QCCA
Though England didn't win Euro 2020 on Sunday night, watching the football brought the Camden community together – and the Italians who call Hampstead home were, of course, celebrating.
In Gospel Oak, the Queen's Crescent Community Association (QCCA) and the King's Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association (KCBNA) used the former's Dome venue to host a family-friendly watching party for the final.
And in the aftermath of the game, local figures have joined calls for stricter punishments for those racially abusing players.
Organised by council leader Georgia Gould, Foyezur Miah from QCCA and Cllr Nash Ali from KCBNA, the idea was to make sure an inclusive space was on offer for people who wanted to watch the game together as a community. Notably, it was alcohol free.
Foyezur said: "‘We all got very excited at the result and in the heat of the moment decided we wanted to find a way to make sure everyone felt involved, especially marginalised communities and Moslem families who don’t drink.
"‘We knew that many people who live round here wouldn’t feel comfortable in crowded pubs and restaurants but we didn’t want them to feel their only choice was to watch the match at home. So we decided to open up the Dome."
Foyezur said there was an "amazing turnout", continuing: "We didn’t get the result we wanted, but it was great to share the ups and downs of the evening with everyone."
At the Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale, the pub's Tom Rees said the game went well, aside from the result. He said there were "some tired and emotional souls" by the time the last penalties were taken.
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The result went down slightly better at Belsize Village restaurant Calici – where some of NW3's Italy fans congregated.
Richard Lagani – an Italian-American who has been involved in the Belsize Village Business Association – said: "It was amazing, so much fun."
Richard, whose grandparents hailed from the southern Italian region of Calabria, added: "It was great, the Italians know how to party, though the whole game was incredibly tense after England scored...
"We all live here and love it, but the loyalty is always to Italy when it comes to football at least."
Another Hampsteadite, environmental campaigner Valeria Pensabene, who was among those nervous ahead of the game, said: "[It was] a bit marred by the violence in London and around the UK but I thought it was an excellent match with a very good England, balanced refereeing and just generally good football.
"Penalties are always disappointing, but again, I thought the Italian comeback was worthy of the win."
But as instances of racist abuse began to pile-up in the aftermath of the match – aimed primarily at the three young players Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho who were unlucky to miss penalties – politicians backed calls for abuse to be driven out of football.
Sir Keir Starmer, who watched the game at the Grafton Arms in Kentish Town, tweeted afterwards: "The entire England team have brought us together and given us memories that will last a life time. They represent the best of us.
"Anyone racially abusing them is a disgrace and doesn’t represent us at all. More can and must be done to stop online abuse."
His parliamentary colleagues Dawn Butler and Tulip Siddiq were both at Wembley, supporting local players – most prominently Brent's Raheem Sterling.
Tulip said the England team symbolised unity, adding: "There will always be those who try to divide us - who question loyalties and stoke hate – but this feeling of unity overcoming differences which we have witnessed as a nation over the Euros should be celebrated."