CALGARY -- The UEFA European Football Championship could not have come at a better time for Calgary restaurant and bar owners in need of a spike in sales.

The tournament is welcome news for the Italian Cultural Centre's executive director Rafela Grossi.

Friday afternoon’s match between Italy and Turkey allowed for a crowd of 50 Calgarians to enjoy lunch and watch the game indoors.

“Our business is down about 98 per cent, all of our weddings, corporate events and cultural events and our restaurant has been closed for the last 16 months,” Grossi said.

“It’s not only (good for)  the business, but (also for) the morale of the members and not just our Italian community but the entire Calgary community.”

The social gathering was especially meaningful for soccer fans like Renato Angelozzi, who has been cheering for Italy since the team won the 1982 World Cup. 

“I just take it to the next level," Angelozzi said. "It’s not a tournament that happens every day so when the time comes, you want to celebrate and really enjoy and embrace the sport.”

Meanwhile, other fans like Krista Harvey are just happy to finally be able to gather again with loved ones at bars and restaurants.

“There’s nothing like being with family and this is family again, being able to celebrate again and being together,” she said.

“It’s the sharing of those moments and seeing faces you haven’t seen in months because when was the last time you saw someone smile at you and be part of that together?”

The Euro 2020 soccer tournament runs from June 11 to July 11.

Some bars like Ship & Anchor and Jameson's Pub on 17 Avenue will be opening early at 6 a.m. for fans to watch games in person.