The pressure is on for Italian football fans to stay up late this weekend to watch their nation beat Wales at Wembley, with the last four matches taking place between now and the end.
But, despite the festive spirit, a study of medical outcomes in England suggests the pressure is not the same as at the start of a football season.
“We found that after a match, the risk of serious and persistent poisoning was significantly higher in England than Italy,” the researchers wrote.
The researchers from the University of Warwick, in collaboration with the British Association of Poison Control Centres, also analysed the health of players, staff and fans in England.
“This is consistent with previous reports that the risk for severe poisoning in England is higher than in Italy,” they wrote.
“A recent analysis of football games in England in 2021 found that the probability of serious poisoning in football matches in 2021 was approximately four times higher in Wales than in England, with a mean incidence of poisoning of 6.3 per 100,000 fans in 2021 compared to 1.6 per 100 100,00 fans in Italy.”
They added: “Our study found that at the peak of the season, there was a significant difference between the two countries in the number of confirmed and suspected cases.”
The most pronounced difference was in the case of serious poisonings, with in England 0.5 cases per 100 000 fans compared to 0.2 per 100 thousand fans in Wales.
“Although our analysis does not establish causality, the difference in incidence between Italy and England may reflect the greater exposure of fans to the game, particularly among younger fans.”
The researchers found that in 2021 there were more than 500,000 cases of acute poisoning in Italy compared to just under 1.1 million cases in England – an increase of 4.5%.
They said the difference may have been caused by an increase in the use of anti-venom in Italy.
“We do not know why this was the case in 2021.
However, the increased use of antivenom may have resulted in a larger number of cases being recorded,” they concluded.
The study is published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Clinical Investigation.