07/10/2006, 00.00
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Italian fans challenge extremists and celebrate World Cup win

by Nirmala Carvalho
Italy's fans from Italy, India, and the Philippines take to the streets singing and dancing to celebrate its victory over France in spite of Hindu extremists who terrorised people during the day.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Italy's Indian fans celebrated its victory in the World Cup by taking to the streets of Mumbai despite Hindu extremists who had terrorised people throughout the day.

Their violence began when they discovered that the bust of Meenatai, the deceased wife of a Shiv Sena leader, had been disfigured. The Shiv Sena is a nationalist movement.

The indiscriminate hooliganism forced people to stay indoor, but as soon as the penalty shootout was over, Azzurri fans poured into the streets and celebrated throughout the night singing and dancing, waving Italian flags.

Most of them saw the match among friends. Marco Cardilli, 49, met with Italian, Filipino and Indian friends at a home in Goregaon, a Mumbai suburb.

"We were 15 and spent the night in front of a home theatre. The Filipinos brought t-shirts and ribbons. I never expected Italy to even make it into the qualifying rounds, after that every victory was a gift," he said.

"When the match went into penalty, I was sure we would loose, as Italy does not have a track record of winning in penalties. But when we topped France 5-3, we jumped on the sofa, began screaming and singing and hugging each other. It was just like a party".

There were French fans as well. Joel Carvalho, 19, sported France's colours on his face but had to admit to the Azzurri's victory.

"Ironically," he said, "Zidane's moment of madness at the 109th minute (a head butt against Italian defender Materazzi which led to a red card) lessened the disappointment for the defeat. The French striker should not have done it, ending his career that way."

In the early part of the tournament, Brazil and Portugal had topped the fans' interest. With Ronaldinho's team out, the Green and Gold flags were replaced by those of Portugal. Italian colours appeared only in the last phase.

In Kolkata, "diehard Azzurri" fans took to the streets waving Italian flags, faces painted red, white and green, chanting "Viva l'Italia".

For Indian media, the final match was like a remake of Romans versus Gauls. Caricatures showed Zidane as a Druid stirring his magic potion in a cauldron, whilst Julius Caesar was looking at him from afar, his troops set for battle.

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