A restaurant owner has launched a campaign that intends to unite England and Italy supporters in Bedford ahead of next weekend’s huge match between the two countries at the World Cup in Brazil.
Simone Licciardi, manager of Tre Fratelli Ristorante based in Wood End, Kempston, has initiated a push to unify both sets of fans in the town.
He said: ”I have started a ‘Respect Campaign’ with the title ‘Enjoy the moment, share the passion - bringing Bedford’s communities together’ as there was some trouble here when the two sides met during Euro 2012 in Ukraine.
“I think there’s great relationships between the two communities and followers of the England and Italy football teams in Bedford and it would be a great shame if these strong bonds were harmed through the actions of a few misguided people stemming from 90 minutes of football this time.
“I have been working closely with Bedford Police and Bedford Borough Council and town centre pubs to promote the theme of respect and am hoping their bar staff will wear our specially made ‘Respect’ t-shirts.
“Football is a great way of bringing people together and the forthcoming England v Italy game should be no different.”
Tre Fratelli’s are organising a golf morning on the day of the game between some of their regulars who will be forming England and Italy sides to compete against each other in the best sporting sense. From 6pm there will be a BBQ and a live band to get people in a party mood for the fixture between the Three Lions and the Azzurri which kicks off at 11pm UK time.
A police spokeswoman said: “We fully suport community efforts that bring people together.”
Simone added: ”Bedford is a unique town as there is a large Italian community that co-exists peacefully and respectfully with everyone. It’s certainly not a case of ‘us’ and ‘them’ as everyone is respectful of each other on a daily basis - and that is what my campaign is trying to emphasise: we all want to see friendship between the two sets of fans which mirrors the friendship communities already have.”
Tre Fratelli, 2 Tithe Road, Wood End, Kempston, MK43 9BE. Tel: 01234 855550. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org