KRAKOW, Poland (AP) – With surprisingly little fan support in stadiums at the European Championship, Italy is taking motivation from a passionate message sent to the squad by the country's president.
His voice cracking with emotion, Giorgio Napolitano wished the team well ahead of Sunday's quarterfinal with England. Later, Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon explained how much the message means to the squad, which has been affected by a match-fixing scandal back home.
Buffon says ''in a tough time for our country and for our profession, it gives us a lot of strength. ... We hope we can repay him, and our nation.''
No Italian politicians will attend the match in Kiev to protest the treatment of jailed Ukraine opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.