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Following Italy’s elimination by Sweden in the World Cup qualifying round, Montreal’s Italian neighborhood invites every football fan in Little Italy, provided they do not root for Sweden.

For the first time since 1958, Italy will not take part in the World Cup after being eliminated by Sweden in the preliminary round.  Montreal’s Little Italy has not forgotten.

"We do not hide it, Gli Azzurri is more than a football team, it is a passion that brings together all generations of Italians living abroad," explains Cristina D'Arienzo, general manager at Société de développement commercial Petite-Italie – Marché Jean-Talon. "It hurts our pride to support Mexico, South Korea and Germany, but something had to be done to counter our new nemesis during this World Cup. That being said, everyone is welcome in Little Italy, even the most daring Swedes," she says ironically.

Little Italy does not shy away from this old rivalry with the Swedes, awakened by the elimination of the Squadra Azzurra and the forced retirement of the star goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. The neighborhood has even publicly announced it by publishing an open letter addressed directly to the Swedish people in a major daily in Gothenburg on the day of their national holiday.

Some might say we’re overacting, but we had to do something for the neighbourhood”, enthuses Stefano Faita, famous restaurant owner in Little Italy. “For us, it’s all about our colours and soccer: that’s all that matters”, adds another famous restaurant personality in la Piccola Italia, Nick de Palma.

"The goal was not only to mobilize residents and soccer fans of Little Italy, but to win the hearts of Italian fans all around the world, no matter where they are – even in Sweden," says Xavier Blais, associate creative director at Rethink, the agency responsible for the campaign. "By giving color to every Italian on the planet, we wanted to awaken a feeling of pride in a tightly knit community all over the world," adds Maxime Sauté, also associate creative director at Rethink.

The independent creative agency based in Montreal recreated a scarf composed of the colors of every team present at the World Cup, except those of Sweden. This unique piece is part of a series of other iterations now decorating the cafés and terraces of Little Italy for the duration of the tournament.

From June 14 to July 15, la Piccola Italia welcomes lovers of the great dance of international football, even the most courageous Swedes, in its many cafes, bars and restaurants broadcasting the games live from Russia.