Are Italian soccer fans watching the World Cup?
At the World Cup of Soccer, there is one glaring absence from the tournament this year.
Italy didn’t make it for the first time since the 1950's.
So now, the large Italian communities across Northern Ontario have to cheer for someone else and hope that Italia makes it back into the next world tournament.
The bar at the local Marconi Club is quiet on the first day of the World Cup as Italy is not competing for the first time in 60 years.
Many in Sault Ste. Marie have strong ties to Italy, and they say not being able to watch their beloved squad is tough.
Rosetta Sicoli is the manager of the Marconi Club.
"Devastating is a very mild word. It's heartbreaking, holy wow we're not there. This is just not something that's acceptable." said Sicoli.
Pat Caputo is the Marconi Club financial secretary.
"What else can I say? We are very disappointed. It's a very sad year, a very sad tournament without Italy being in it." said Caputo.
Vince Vernelli is a team Italy supporter.
"Italy's probably been in there, somewhere, for almost every year. Being the second most-winner of the world cup, and you're not there?" said Vernelli shaking his head in disappointment.
The Italian soccer fans have had plenty to cheer for over the years, as their squad has won the World Cup title four times.
"It means a lot of getting together and cheering, and screaming, and yelling, and drinking and eating. This is the Stanley Cup of Italy, but even, I mean, we watch the Stanley Cup whether a Canadian teams are in it or not. Will the Italians watch the world cup? Probably not." said Sicoli.
They say watching their team compete brings out the passion for their Italian heritage.
"I'll watch it, but the heart is not there. Like if Italy was there, it would have been vibrant, it would have been different." said Caputo.
Sonny Spina also cheers for team Italy.
"It’s devastating to fans to see that Italy is not in this World Cup, but really, in reality, the World Cup is about way more than that. It’s about the entire world coming together for this sport, for this beautiful game. yeah it's very difficult for fans to watch but there are a great group of other countries there that we can cheer for and support.
With Italy not competing at the 2018 world cup some fans say they will watch strictly for the love of the sport. While others say they will choose a new team to throw their support behind and say they can't wait for Italy to attempt to qualify for the tournament again in 2022.