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English ex-pats from across Europe travel hundreds of miles to Italy

English expats from across Europe have been travelling hundreds of miles to Italy for the Euros clash against Ukraine – as Three Lions fans attempting to come from England were urged to stay at home.

James Curran, 25, and two friends will undertake an 800-mile rail trip from their home in Prague to be at Rome’s Olympic Stadium for the quarter final match against Ukraine.

They have managed to buy three tickets at face value from an Italian fan not interested in attending the match on Saturday night. 

England fans who have tickets and manage to get to Rome will have to prove they have not been in the UK in the last 14 days to gain entry to the stadium after Italy slammed its doors to Britain to keep out the delta variant. 

Mr Curran will join an estimated 1,500 English ex-pats who will be cheering on the Three Lions as they take on Ukraine for a place in the semi-final.

He said: ‘It is an awfully long way to go, but we just hope it will be worth it. I’m a huge England fan and this could be the best chance we have to reach the final. It will be tiring, but it’s not every day England are in the Quarter Finals. 

It came as Dawn Hughes, an English expat in Italy, delivered a rallying cry on Good Morning Britain today, saying: ‘There’s nothing more than I would love than for it to come home. We want to come home, we want to party, we want to celebrate. We want something to live for and we’re going to live for England this weekend!’ 

James Curran, 25, (middle) and two friends (Bosco Leong, left; and Elliot van Batholdgiven, right) will undertake an 800-mile rail trip to be at Rome’s Olympic Stadium for the quarter final match against Ukraine from their home in Prague

Thousands of English fans who celebrated the landmark 1-0 victory over Germany at home have been left bitterly disappointed that they cannot travel to attend the match.

Italy has imposed a five-day quarantine on all arrivals from the UK in an attempt to halt the spread of the Delta variant. All fans have also to present a negative Covid test.

Italian authorities have said they will be carrying out rigorous checks at the borders to prevent fans from entering the country in breach of quarantine rules.

Mr Curran, from Radlett, Hertfordshire, has lived in Prague for the last two years working as a data consultant for an IT company.

Italy insists any England fans travelling to the game will be barred from the stadium

The Embassy of Italy in London said that only travellers who can prove they arrived in Italy six days previously, had gone through fives days of quarantine and had a negative post-isolation Covid test will be allowed into the stadium.

Its statement added that even travellers who are not required to quarantine – such as those passing through Italy for less than 36 hours or for brief work visits – will not be allowed entry to the Stadio Olimpico.

It added: ‘Anyone who is found to be failing to observe quarantine will be punished as laid down by the law.

‘Fans based in the UK should therefore not travel to Italy to attend the match on Saturday at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.’

The World Health Organisation Europe has reiterated the importance of monitoring movements at mass gatherings such as Euro 2020 matches.

‘We need to look much beyond just the stadia themselves,’ said Catherine Smallwood, the WHO’s senior emergency officer. ‘What we need to look at is around the stadia, how are people getting there, are they travelling in large crowded convoys of buses?

‘What’s happening when they leave the stadiums? Are they going into crowded bars and pubs to watch the matches? And we’ve said should this mixing happen, there will be cases.’

German interior minister Horst Seehofer meanwhile said it was ‘absolutely irresponsible’ of European football’s governing body to allow 40,000 fans to watch England take on Germany at London’s Wembley Stadium. 

Ambassador Raffaele Trombetta said: ‘My message is very clear. Don’t go to Italy because you haven’t got time to quarantine. Even if you have got a ticket to go to the football match, that will not give you the right to go to the match.’ Last night Italian state police imposed a mandatory block on any further sale or transfer of tickets.

Officials also said any tickets bought by UK residents from last Monday would not be valid at the stadium. 

 

His journey to Rome will begin with a five-hour train trip from Prague to Salzburg in Austria.

On Friday night he will connect with an overnight train that arrives in Rome on Saturday morning, a journey that takes 11 hours and cover 1,200km. 

Mr Curran and close friends Elliot van Barthold, 25, and Bosco Leong, 26, used an appeal on social media to get their match tickets.

But he warned there were lots of scammers attempting to sell fake tickets for the match.

‘There was a Facebook group and I put out a message saying I was interested in tickets. A guy in Rome replied and had three tickets for 450 Euro. To prove they were genuine he posted a video.

‘Within minutes I was contacted by someone else who sent me the same video. He has just copied it and was trying to scam the 150 Euro for a ticket when he obviously did not have the real tickets.

‘People are so desperate for the tickets that many people will fall for the scams.’ 

Mr Curran was able to contact the genuine seller directly by phone who was able to prove that he had three tickets by showing he had purchased them from the UEFA app on his phone.

He said: ‘The seller was able to show our conversation and how he had purchased the tickets from the UEFA website. I could see that he had the tickets and could forward the email confirmation.

‘Just to make sure I paid for one ticket, and he was able to transfer it by email to me. Once I knew it was the real deal I paid for the other two. I also talked to the seller on the phone and was able to know he was genuine.’

Joel Phillips, 29, is originally from Doncaster but has been living in Hamburg, Germany, for more than three years.

The musician said he was the only Englishman in the pub when he watched Gareth Southgate’s men beat Germany, and decided to look into tickets when he realised many England fans would be unable to travel to the Italian capital.

‘I heard about the English fans not being able to get over so had a look on the Uefa website and they had tickets available, so I just bought one immediately and I’m working the rest out as I go along!’ he said.

‘Figured I needed to do my bit and roar the boys on as the Barmy Army couldn’t travel.

‘I’m flying out (Friday) evening. I think there’s a massive expat community in Europe… so I think it will still be pumping.

‘You can go anywhere on Earth and still find some pals to ”Vindaloo” along with! I’ll be making an extra effort to lift the noise!’ 

Fans unable to attend the quarter-final have advertised their tickets for sale on social media.

Student Jack Francis, 20, from Southampton, plans to travel to Rome from France, and secured his ticket on Twitter for £145.

‘Hearing Brits coming from the UK would struggle to get into Italy, I knew there would be a chance that a lot of people would be trying to flog their tickets,’ he said.

‘[I] contacted a nice gent on Twitter, within five minutes I sent him the money and he transferred me the ticket. The guy just wanted to cover the ticket, travel and hotel cost which I think was totally acceptable.’ 

Joel Phillips, 29, is originally from Doncaster, has been living in Hamburg, Germany, for more than three years. He was the only Englishman in the pub to witness England's win

Joel Phillips, 29, is originally from Doncaster, has been living in Hamburg, Germany, for more than three years. He was the only Englishman in the pub to witness England’s win 

Dawn Hughes, an English expat in Italy, delivered a rallying cry on Good Morning Britain today, saying: 'There's nothing more than I would love than for it to come home'

Dawn Hughes, an English expat in Italy, delivered a rallying cry on Good Morning Britain today, saying: ‘There’s nothing more than I would love than for it to come home’

The Southampton fan said he had planned to travel to nine games in five countries for the tournament, but had his ticket money refunded in April due to the pandemic.

‘If all goes to plan, (this) would be worth replacing those nine games!’ he said.

David McAdam, a tech worker who lives in Malta, said he managed to buy two tickets from an England fan living in the UK via Twitter ‘within five minutes’.

He said: ‘I decided to try and go this morning. I can’t think of a better way to spend my weekend.’

Luke Curner, from Folkestone in Kent, will also be able to go to the game because he currently lives in the German town of Helmstedt, so will not have to quarantine.

I’m excited to be seeing England in a major championship but at the same time I’m sad that it won’t have the same atmosphere due to the lack of English supporters being allowed to travel,’ the 36-year-old German language student said.

‘I’m very lucky to be in an EU country allowing me to travel with few restrictions. It was great watching the game in Germany, although my whole neighbourhood knows I must be English.’

There are no paper tickets with all transactions by email or downloaded from the UEFA app.

The British Embassy in Rome is attempting to sell those tickets that were handed back by the Football Association.

There are an estimated 30,000 English ex-pats living in Italy and the allocation of 2,300 is expected to have been snapped up after they went on sale on Wednesday evening.

Any England fan that is resident in the EU can travel to the match without restriction and able to purchase a ticket.

Student Jack Francis, 20, from Southampton, plans to travel to Rome from France, and secured his ticket on Twitter for £145

Student Jack Francis, 20, from Southampton, plans to travel to Rome from France, and secured his ticket on Twitter for £145

Those who have been vaccinated are able to use a newly released EU Covid 19 passport to bypass tests and quarantine.

US citizens are also allowed into Italy if they can prove they have been vaccinated.

Tickets for the match are being offered on secondary sale sites such as livefootballtickets.com

The site says it has over 600 tickets currently for sale starting at £90 with the most expensive £500

As the clampdown on fans gathered paced, the Italian embassy in London said in a statement yesterday: ‘Only those who can prove that they have arrived in Italy at least six days previously, have observed five days of quarantine, and have taken a post-quarantine Covid-19 test with a negative result, will be allowed into the Stadio Olimpico.

‘Being exempt from quarantine in Italy for any legal reasons will not translate into permission to enter the stadium.

‘Anyone who is found to be failing to observe quarantine will be punished as laid down by law.’

Andrea Costa, a junior Italian health minister, added: ‘I am clear and unequivocal – the English fans will not be able to come to Italy to watch the match at the Olimpico against Ukraine on July 3rd.

‘There are five days of quarantine, the rule must be respected. We cannot take risks.’

The Italian interior ministry said it has increased police checks at airports, train stations and road borders, while quarantine checks have also been beefed up.

Officers will be stationed at popular tourist spots in Rome and will hand out fines of up to 4000 euros for those breaking self-isolation rules.

The rules effectively mean that expats living in Italy will make up the English support on Saturday. Those living in other EU countries, as well as Dubai, can also attend because they do not have to quarantine on arrival in Italy.

David McAdam, a tech worker who lives in Malta, said he managed to buy two tickets from an England fan living in the UK via Twitter ‘within five minutes’

David McAdam, a tech worker who lives in Malta, said he managed to buy two tickets from an England fan living in the UK via Twitter ‘within five minutes’


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