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Italy Takes Exception To U.s. "war" Comments

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http://sports.yahoo.com/sow/news?slug=ap-w...ov=ap&type=lgns

Italy takes exception to U.S. 'war' comments

By ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer

June 15, 2006

DUISBURG, Germany (AP) -- If the United States considers its next game "war," Italy is ready.

Even if the Azzurri believe statements made by U.S. forward Eddie Johnson were a little over the top.

"We'll do our talking on the field. That's what we're here to do," forward Vincenzo Iaquinta said Thursday. "But if they consider it war, then it will be war for us, too." :o

The American team was to spend Thursday and Friday nights at Ramstein Air Base outside Kaiserslautern, where the United States plays Italy on Saturday.

Johnson said Wednesday that he hoped some of the troops' spirit would transfer over to the U.S. team.

"It's like us in the World Cup. We're here for a war," the 22-year-old forward said. "We came here to battle, we came here to represent our country."

The Americans are coming off a 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic and need a win to avoid elimination. Italy opened with a comfortable 2-0 win over Ghana in Group E.

"A war seems a bit exaggerated but we'll prepare ourselves appropriately," striker Alberto Gilardino said. "We're not underestimating any of our opponents. This is the game of their lives. We have to go out and play our game to bring home three points."

Gilardino added that he thought "Johnson was only referring to the competitive aspect of war."

Johnson was asked whether he was comparing a sporting event to a war.

"Yeah," he responded. "Whenever you put your jersey on and you look at your crest and the national anthem's going on, and you're playing against a different country, it's like you do or die, it's survival of the (fittest) over 90 minutes-plus. We're going to go out there and do whatever we've got to do, make tackles, do the things when the referee's not looking. ... to get three points."

The war in Iraq was widely unpopular in Italy and new Italian Premier Romano Prodi is working out a timetable for pulling Italy's troops out of Iraq by year's end.

Previous premier Silvio Berlusconi, a strong ally of President Bush, sent in some 3,000 troops to help with reconstruction after the ouster of Saddam Hussein. More than half that number of Italian soldiers are still in Iraq.

"We know they'll be watching and want to do well for them, too," Gilardino said.

Extra security is being prepared for the game.

"I hope it's not a game at risk, the stadium will be full and our families will be there, too," Gilardino said.

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