English soccer fans began leaving Cagliari, Sardinia, for the mainland or home, and some Sardinians were glad to bid them farewell. The English team now goes to Bologna for a second-round game Tuesday against Belgium.
"It has been too much," a Cagliari businessman said. "I'm glad it's over."
Italian authorities planned for months for England's appearance, fearing violence incited by notorious British soccer rowdies. Several thousand extra security personnel were deployed, and although some confrontations occurred, the disturbances were considerably less than had been feared.
"The English for the most part are good," another businessman said. "But there were a few that wanted to cause trouble. There was too much drinking, too much fighting. I cannot say I'm happy that the World Cup is over here, but I think that it is time some of these people left."
Craig Brewin of the English Football Supporters' Association said many fans had exhausted their money and were returning to England. But he predicted many others, including some potential troublemakers, would return to Italy if the team continues to win.
Some Sardinian fans taunted and jeered the English at Thursday night's game and cheered openly and loudly for Egypt. But in Pula, a coastal town west of Cagliari near the English training site, Sardinian businessmen flew the Union Jack alongside the Italian flag and the banner of the Cagliari soccer team. Out of Nowhere
Roger Milla of Cameroon, Paul Gascoigne of England and Costa Rica's Luis Conejo are among the unlikely stars of this World Cup.
Milla, 38, who lost interest in top-level soccer after the death of his mother and was playing for a small team on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, was unexpectedly called back to the Cameroon squad. He scored two goals to help defeat Romania as the African nation clinched a spot in the second round. Now he is talking about playing professionally again, perhaps in Italy or Spain.
Gascoigne, whose great skills often are overshadowed by his propensity to find trouble on and off the field, was derided as too chubby to survive the Italian summer and too immature to lead England's conservative attack. But he led the English against the Netherlands and created England's winning goal against Egypt on Thursday night, which gave the English the Group F title.
Conejo, 30, entered the tournament as the little-known goalie of a tiny nation most people could not locate on a map. But he stepped into the spotlight with several key saves as Costa Rica stunned Scotland and Sweden. Empty Spots on View
Despite selling 93 percent of the 2.6 million World Cup tickets, tournament organizers saw hundreds of seats go unoccupied during the first round. Official attendance figures, based on the number of tickets sold, were near capacity at many of the 12 stadiums throughout Italy where games were played. But huge blocks of seats were embarrassingly empty at many matches.
Some of the empty seats were sold to corporate sponsors and officials of FIFA, the world soccer governing body. Other seats were sold in large groups to overseas fans and travel agents. . . .
Not every Italian citizen is thrilled to have a front-row seat at the World Cup. Around Florence can be seen graffiti proclaiming, "il Mondialismo ti uccide" -- "World Cup fever is killing us." Special street signs erected by Italia '90, the Cup organizing committee, had their directional arrows spray-painted out.
Restaurant and bar owners have protested the ban on alcohol sales in Cup cities on game days. Restaurateurs make it clear they are more interested in the usual tourist clientele, not the soccer fans passing through town.
"We don't need these English or these other football fans who sleep rough and bring their own food, anyway," said one restaurant proprietor in Florence. "This is an expensive city. We need tourists with money, not these football fans."
Mario Lippi, president of the Italian Association of Tourism in Tuscany, said that in Florence alone, tourism income is down 30 percent from a normal June.