Euro 2020: Azzurri open top bus parade in Rome 'not authorised'

Rome prefect says "Chiellini and Bonucci" insisted on open top bus parade to go ahead despite request being denied originally due to covid concerns.

The Azzurri's open top bus parade through the Italian capital on Monday evening to celebrate Italy's Euro 2020 crown "was not authorised", according to Rome prefect Matteo Piantedosi.

The original agreement with security officials was not respected, Piantedosi told Italian newspaper of record Corriere della Sera, saying that authorities reluctantly let the open top bus go ahead over fears of public disorder if it were denied.

In an explosive interview, Piantedosi revealed that when security officials met on Friday - two days before Italy defeated England on penalties in Wembley - it was decided that an open-top bus parade could not be authorised, in line with the naion's covid-19 protocols.

The prefect said that in addition to officials from the interior ministry and Rome police chief Lamberto Giannini, the meeting involved Italy's Football Federation (FIGC) which asked to "allow the athletes of the national team to take a ride around Rome in an open bus, but it was clearly explained that it was not possible. We said we could not authorise this."

Crowds cheering the Azzurri on Via del Corso. Photo Mauro Scrobogna /LaPresse.

Piantedosi told the Corriere that authorities were assured that the players would travel in a regular bus to the Quirinale, to meet Italian president Sergio Mattarella, and to Palazzo Chigi, to meet the prime minister Mario Draghi. 

However, after leaving Palazzo Chigi, an "open top bus with the livery and lettering dedicated to the European champions showed up", said the prefect who explained how at that point it was impossible to stop it: "There were thousands of people waiting for the bus parade, prohibiting it could have created problems of public order."

The prefect said it was "the strong intention of the players to continue the celebrations with a ride on an open top bus" back to their hotel, before singling out two key figures "who forced the decision" - Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci - who argued their case "with determination."

At that point it was decided to let the bus parade go ahead and "manage it in the best way possible", said Piantedosi, who told the Corriere that authorities were "deeply embittered" by the way things turned out.

Speaking to television cameras during the celebrations on Monday evening, Bonucci said: "We won the negotiations as a team because it was right to dedicate 10 minutes to the fans. They have been waiting for us for a long time, the cup is theirs after a year and a half of suffering." 

The Azzurri celebrate their Euro 2020 triumph in Rome

The prefect said that authorities in Rome have always tried to apply anti-covid measures by relying on the collaboration of residents and those involved "rather than imposing draconian measures."

Pianteodosi also pointed out that, among the sea of people who thronged around the bus, "practically the only ones wearing masks were police."

In response to the claims, the FIGC stressed that it had always been "responsible, but above all respectful of the Italian institutions and fans." 

“It is not our intention to fuel further controversy, because we do not want to transform a moment of national joy into a divisive issue" - read the statement signed by FIGC president Gabriele Gravina - underlining that the first bus (with a roof) had been "literally overwhelmed by the affection of the huge crowds."

Experts have predicted that Italy could see a surge of new covid-19 cases over the next two weeks following the crowds of celebrating football fans.