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Last Updated: Monday, 10 July 2006, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
Italy jubilant as France mourns
Correspondents report on the mood in Rome and Paris following Italy's victory against France in the World Cup.

DAVID WILLEY, ROME

Italians celebrated their World Cup victory in a night-long fiesta in the streets of Rome and other cities down the peninsula, all the way from the Alps to Sicily.

Italian fans in Pisa's Piazza Dei Miracoli
Fans surged into Pisa's "Miracle Square" to celebrate victory
It was a very noisy and totally triumphant night of celebrations.

They sang the Italian national anthem, they chanted "Italia, Italia" and the singing, the flag-waving and the firecrackers went on till dawn.

Now municipal workers are sweeping up the broken bottles and clearing the rubbish the joyful crowds left in the streets.

Tens of thousands of fans draped themselves in Italy's red, white and green flag as they paraded through the night.

In Rome the police had to intervene at least twice when groups of hooligans attacked and damaged a mobile police post in the Piazza Venezia with bottles and cobblestones they had torn up from the road.

Police also used teargas to clear another famous central piazza, the Flower Market, when rival gangs became violent and smashed tables and cafe chairs and threw more bottles.

Arrests for acts of hooliganism, minor injuries and damage to cars were reported in several other cities, including Milan, Ancona and Naples.

Italy fans in Sydney, Australia
The message to France from these Italy fans in Australia was clear
In Milan, over-excited fans hijacked a bus and forced the driver to hand over his keys.

They danced on the roof of the bus as it careered through the city.

Italian newspapers are carrying predictable banner headlines.

"Italy, the heart of the world", says Rome's Il Messaggero, on top of a photograph of the team with their coach. "Mythical" screams one of the sports dailies. La Repubblica also has a single word across the top - "Champions".

There will be a big homecoming ceremony for the Azzurri, the Blues, as the national team are called in Italian, later in the day.

The newly elected Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano, was among the first to congratulate the winning team.

He joined in and sang along with them in their changing rooms at the Berlin stadium.

"You were great," he told them, thanking them for restoring a sense of national pride.

HAVE YOUR SAY
10/10 for the Germans' hospitality and organisation
Mech Man, Portsmouth, UK

Prime Minister Romano Prodi told Italians on television the victory had been fought to the last drop of blood.

Six members of the winning team belong to the Italian first division club Juventus, which is at the centre of a huge match-fixing scandal.

Their club could be relegated from the first to the third division and stripped of its league championship titles for the last two seasons by a sports tribunal that is sitting here in Rome.

A verdict is expected later this week.

But Italians are showing little interest today in possible sanctions against their World Cup stars.

They only want to taste the full flavour of victory in Berlin, their first in the World Cup for 24 years.

CAROLINE WYATT, PARIS

France has lost the World Cup final, with the nation shocked by France captain Zinedine Zidane losing his cool and being sent off in extra time after head-butting Marco Materazzi.

France fans in Marseille react to the defeat
France fans in Marseille, Zidane's home town, reacted with shock and dismay
The loss of such a key player may have cost the country victory and has left France searching for answers.

As France wakes up, still bitterly disappointed, the biggest question is what exactly went wrong for Zidane.

This was his last match as captain and the last game of his professional career, after a World Cup in which he had inspired the team and taken them to the very brink of victory with an early goal in the final.

Yet well into extra time, the man from a poor immigrant family who had become an icon for France suddenly lost his cool, head-butting Materazzi after the Italian player appeared to provoke him.

Zidane was sent off with disastrous results for France's penalty shoot-out, leaving the nation frustrated and upset.

"Well, he merited what he got," said one French fan.

"It's his own fault. So he has to assume responsibility and it's a shame, it's a pity for the team, because that really was a knockout for the French team and... that was a moral knockout."

"It was a pity for Zidane to finish like this," said another fan.

"But he made a large mistake, that's a pity. But a very, very good match and we hope next time the French win of course."

President Jacques Chirac was in Berlin to watch the match and expressed his puzzlement at Zidane's behaviour.

But, he added, the France captain had embodied the best of French sport throughout his career.

While the French are trying to take their defeat philosophically, the result has reinforced a sense of gloom here - and the feeling that France itself is no longer a lucky nation.


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