Emilia-Romagna wears blue: between March and June, Bologna, Ferrara, and Cesena will host matches of the National Team (Italy-Turkey, June 4 at the "Dall'Ara") and two of the Under 21 matches (March 22, Italy-Latvia at the Orogel Stadium Dino Manuzzi and March 26 Italy-Turkey at the "Mazza"). The matches are part of the regional program of 2024 events under the partnership signed between the region and the Italian Football Federation.
"We are proud," said Emilia-Romagna President Stefano Bonaccini, announcing the three matches at a press conference in Bologna today, "to host the Azzurri champions in Emilia-Romagna. The national team is a heritage of the whole country, part of our common history, which has given us and will continue to give us unique emotions. Thank you, therefore, to President Gravina for this opportunity that strengthens the Sports Valley of Emilia-Romagna and will not fail to give further visibility to our beautiful region."
"It is a pleasure for the FIGC to return to play in Emilia-Romagna with the major national team and the Under 21 - the words of FIGC President Gabriele Gravina - I thank President Bonaccini for the far-sightedness of the project with which he is investing in promoting the territory through the enhancement of events and sports infrastructure. As it has already done in other regions, the FIGC continues on its path of collaboration with local authorities and different territories to create new development opportunities. Soccer is a spectacle watched by millions of people and, at the same time, an extraordinary vehicle for many social initiatives. In particular, the Azzurri National Teams arouse beautiful unity throughout the country. In agreement with the region, we will promote cultural and socially responsible initiatives because the message of participation with which we will present ourselves in Bologna, Cesena, and Ferrara is not limited to holding competitions."
The collaboration between the Emilia-Romagna region and the FIGC is further consolidated by the quality of the sports infrastructures present in the territory and the possibility of realizing, through the Azzurri teams, tourism enhancement projects but also recreational-sports activities of a formative and educational nature with schools and soccer schools. In recent years, among other things, there have been several matches of the National Teams hosted in the region: in Reggio Emilia Italy-Lithuania (2022 World Cup qualifiers), in Bologna and Cesena, the two Nations League matches Italy-Germany and Italy-Hungary (June 2022), in Ferrara and Parma two matches of the Women's National Team in 2023 (Italy-Morocco in July and Italy-Switzerland in the Nations League last December), and several youth matches, the last one being that of the Under 20 World Vice-Champions in Sassuolo in November 2023 (Italy-Portugal). Among other things, Emilia-Romagna has also hosted in recent years the traveling exhibition "Azzurra: The Great History of the National Team," organized in collaboration with the Coverciano Football Museum Foundation, which has made it possible to display some extraordinary memorabilia from the 114 years of Azzurri history in the region.
The Azzurri will inaugurate this partnership in the coming weeks with two matches on the qualification path to the 2025 European Championship. Friday, March 22, against Latvia at the Orogel Stadium Dino Manuzzi in Cesena, Tuesday 26, with Turkey at 'Paolo Mazza' in Ferrara. After the first five days, Italy leads Group A with 11 points, followed by Ireland with 10 and Norway with 9. In Cesena, the Under 21 squad returns after 45 years: in February 1979, Italy, led by Cesena's Azeglio Vicini, was defeated by the Soviet Union (0-1, goal by Oleg Blokhin) in Ferrara. It will be the Azzurri's ninth match. In the previous eight, they achieved seven victories (the last a 3-0 win over Iceland in November 2019) and only one defeat, in November 2018, in a friendly against England.