England v Italy - Bedford prepares for opening game as police finalise their own plans

Luigi Reale and Libby Lionetti.
Luigi Reale and Libby Lionetti.

With less than three weeks until England play Italy in the World Cup, police are busy finalising their own plans for the sporting event.

They are well used to planning for large football tournaments and this summer’s festival of football will be no different.

A spokeswoman for Beds Police told the T&C: “We have extra officers around when England or Italy play because so many extra people come into town centres to enjoy the games in pubs or celebrate afterwards and it is sensible to plan for extra crowds and traffic.

“Most people don’t cause any trouble at all but for those that do we will be fully prepared to deal with them. We will also ensure any Bedfordshire-based people who are subject to Football Banning Orders have handed their passports in for the duration of the tournament and visit any who do not comply.”

With Bedford having a large Italian population, excitement is also rising in the town at the prospect of the opening match in Group D between England and Italy.

Bedford resident and Italian community advocate Luigi Reale said: “Sport is something that is so important because it represents a positive force for good.

“Football helps grow respect and can help people come together in Bedford.

“We want England to win if Italy don’t win!”

Libby Lionetti, owner of La Piazza, St Paul’s Square, added: ”It’s not a question of ‘them and us’ - it just doesn’t exist. We all go to the same shops and schools and pubs, that is what is great about Bedford. I want England to do well if Italy get knocked out.”

The police spokeswoman added: “Our general message to everybody is to have a fantastic time watching the games, but remember to follow the usual common sense rules we recommend for any night out – which is to drink sensibly, plan how you’re getting home and think before getting involved in confrontations which might result in you ending up with worse things to worry about than a bad result at the World Cup.”