Foreign envoys in Turkey expect good performances from their national teams in EURO 2020, which is set to begin on Friday.
Ambassadors of nations participating in the tournament came together for the 2020 European Football Championship Media Day at the Turkish Sports Writers Association's (TSYD) Ankara chapter on Tuesday.
The Italian ambassador shared with Anadolu Agency his expectations from the national team.
"I think this time the Italian national team is quite strong, one of the best in the qualifying round. So, my expectations are quite high, although you can never be sure in football," Massimo Gaiani said.
Italy will face Turkey in the opening game of the tournament. "Of course, everyone wants to win. But it is a very open game and both the teams are strong. I hope to see them progress in the tournament," he said.
Gaiani said Italians are crazy about football, and the fans missed watching games during the coronavirus pandemic. "There were a limited number of supporters [in stadiums]. Watching matches without fans is unfortunate."
The envoy will follow Italy's matches in the tournament on TV.
'Turks crazier than Dutch in football'
The Dutch ambassador said she "expects a lot" from her national team in the forthcoming tournament.
"I think the group stage will give them time to grow as a team. Players play in various clubs, but they know each other very well. They have shown in the past that they can do it and the coach can bring them all together," said Marjanne de Kwaasteniet.
She said football is the most popular sport in the Netherlands, having the "biggest audience, biggest celebrations," and attracting the most attention.
But, she added, Turks are even more passionate about the game. "Turkish fans support their clubs whole-heartedly. It is nice that Turkey is playing in this championship."
The ambassadors also participated in the penalty shootouts contest, which FIFA referee Ali Palabiyik of Turkey officiated.
Palabiyik said it was the first time he got involved in such an activity. "It was a different experience for me to wear the jersey for penalty shootouts only. There were some very good shots as well. People seemed very well-prepared."
Azerbaijan's ambassador in Ankara, Hazar Ibrahim, won the mini-tournament.
Palabiyik, one of the 18 official referees in Euro 2020, hopes Turkey performs well in the championship.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.