The English have been chanting “It’s coming home” all along, but Italian fans have quickly tossed a riposte, “It’s coming home to Rome”.
As England take on Italy in the Euro 2020 final at the majestic Wembley tomorrow, the words of football commentator Peter Drury come to mind: “Will Wembley lick its lips once more?”
And while there is sure to be a raucous atmosphere at Wembley, with 60,000 people permitted, fans in Dubai — British and Italian expats as well as other nationalities, who love the ‘beautiful game’ — are looking to create a similar atmosphere.
Hotels, cafes, restaurants, sports pubs in Dubai, which are screening the showpiece, are geared up for a ‘sold-out’ night, with many things planned — like a ‘fan zone’, promotions and even a ‘Euro Menu’ — but with Covid safety protocols in place.
“We are sold out at most of our outlets,” Praveen Shetty, chairman and managing director of the Fortune Group of Hotels, told Khaleej Times.
“We have created a fan zone at our Fortune Atrium and Fortune Dubai Grand properties. We have designed it like a football ground with grass, and two goal posts with nets, and the match will be screened on a big screen. We also have created additional seating outside our Freddy’s Restocafe outlet for up to 100. Normally, we used to have 300 seats, but because of Covid safety protocols, we have reduced the seating,” he added.
Lucian Rosu, general manager of Joe’s Backyard at Holiday Inn Dubai Festival City, also said they are fully booked for the big game.
“We have been sold out since last week,” said Rosu, who is expecting an equal number of fans for England and Italy.
“We are strictly enforcing the government guidelines and protocols of social distancing, tables have a maximum seating of 10 guests, staff must wear face masks, and guests must also wear masks when not on their tables,” he added.
Ninad Mate, operations manager at one of the popular hotel franchises, felt there will be more England fans.
“Thanks to the England team reaching the final, most of the places will be totally packed as there are a lot of English expats and supporters in Dubai,” felt Ninad.
With the expected rush, they are reinforcing their staff. ”On a normal day, we have about 15 staff, but tomorrow we will have at least 20 to 21,” he revealed.
“We created a special menu for Euros and the resident band will be entertaining fans before the match, at half-time and after the game,” Ninad said.
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