The Italian town of Pieve di Cento in Bologna is infatuated with one of the members of the Icelandic men’s national football team, according the Danish website fyens.dk. Three thousand out of its 7,000 residents have already joined a Facebook page called Ari Freyr Skúlason cittadino onorario di Pieve, established to urge authorities to make Atli Freyr an honorary resident of the town.
Ari Freyr Skúlason. Photo: Allessandro Mlòn Melloni/Facebook.
Hundreds of residents have purchased the official Icelandic football jersey with the name Skúlason and the number 23 on the back. The fascination with Ari Freyr has become the subject of media such as Sky Sport Italia, Eurosport 2, Corriere della Sera, Quotodiano.net and Corriere della Bologna.
The reason for this infatuation has not only to do with Ari Freyr’s great success at the EURO 2016, but also with his last name. In Icelandic, of course, his last name means the son of Skúli.
In Italian, that is not the case. On the contrary, in the local dialect, sculason is a word used to express wonder, anger or euphoria. It is, in fact, a word used to emphasize what is said. That has no doubt played a role in the exceptional interest in the football hero.
The mayor of Pieve di Cento shares that interest. On Thursday last week, he sent a letter to Ari Freyr with an invitation to visit the town to receive a nomination as honorary resident.
Mayor Sergio Maccagnani wrote, “This would be a great opportunity to meet a major [football] player and to strengthen ties between our community and Iceland.”