The Assistant Chief Constable at Bedfordshire Police has said they’ll be providing “a proportionate policing response” in Bedford for tomorrow’s (Sunday) Euro 2020 final.
Sharn Basra has praised the “warmth and positivity” created by the England and Italy teams during the tournament, highlighting the “great Anglo-Italian relationship” we have in Bedford ahead of the historic final.
The town is home to almost 20,000 people of Italian descent, which is roughly 30% of the population.
With England now reaching a men’s tournament final for the first time in 55 years, jubilant celebrations are expected whatever the result.
“The past 18 months or so have been tough on all of us and it is fantastic to see the warmth and positivity created by both the England and Italy teams during this championship,” said the Assistant Chief Constable.
“We are lucky to live in one of the most diverse areas of the country and we will always celebrate this diversity and the great Anglo-Italian relationship we have in Bedford in particular.”
“We’ve been blessed”
Italy fan Libby Lionetti, owner of La Piazza on St Paul’s Square, says he’s looking forward to the final.
“We’ve been blessed with this great event. Both countries are in it, England and Italy, it’s gonna be amazing. Absolutely brilliant, so everybody just enjoy yourself… Bedford’s the real winner,” he said.
Meanwhile, England fan, Gary Hooper, owner of GCH Fishmongers believes the town will be “quite lively”.
Speaking to the Bedford Independent, Gary said: “There’s a friendly rivalry going on, but hopefully 2-1 to England will be a great result.”
“A Bedford derby”
Anyone who has lived in Bedford during a football tournament, won’t have missed Italian celebrations along the town’s Embankment when they have won.
Just this week, on Tuesday (6 July) upon reaching the semi-final, cheers of “Forza Italia” and car horns could be heard until the early hours.
“It’s part of our town, it’s what makes Bedford unique,” one Italian fan told us when asked why they celebrate so emphatically.
The following night, with England’s historic 2-1 win against Denmark, ecstatic England fans held a joyful and excitable celebration along Bedford’s High Street.
England fans we spoke to agreed the Italian celebrations are a part of the fabric of Bedford’s celebrated cultural diversity.
“Yeah, it’s great fun if you’re a football fan but let’s hope we’re the ones celebrating on Sunday,” said one.
“Whatever the result we just want to have a laugh and have fun, we’re all mates and it’s friendly rivalry and banter,” said another.
“It’s a Bedford derby,” exclaimed another.
Despite some focusing on past events when the two sides have faced each other, this year, the feeling is overwhelmingly positive amongst the Bedfordians we spoke to.
Joe Sepede, who runs the Castle Deli on Castle Road, said: “I’m 50/50, my parents are Italian but I was born in England. I just hope it’s a good game… and may the best team win.”
England fan Rosanna from The Store and Italy supporter Mas from Alexander Barbers, neighbours in St Cuthbert’s Arcade, argued playfully when asked who would win.
“It’s a very friendly atmosphere,” said Mas. “Bedford’s the real winner,” added Roseanna.
This sentiment was echoed by Bedfordshire Police.
“We live and work alongside one another every day and while there will be friendly rivalry during Sunday’s match,” said Assistant Chief Constable Sharn Basra.
“I am sure these exchanges will be good-natured, as they have been at every stage of the tournament so far here in Bedfordshire.
“Please enjoy the match responsibly, get home safe and let’s all hope for a fitting finale to what has been a great tournament for both teams.”