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Thompson: Ronaldo and his father

Euro 2016
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Black, pink and read all over Italy: La Gazzetta tracks the pulse of sport

Reading La Gazzetta dello Sport has become a morning ritual for Italian football fans.
Reading La Gazzetta dello Sport has become a morning ritual for Italian football fans.

MILAN -- This morning, in cafés across Italy, people of all ages are doing the same thing: ordering an espresso, Caffe Si brand more than likely, then spreading out the pink-colored pages of La Gazzetta dello Sport and reading every last nuance about Saturday's Italy-Germany quarterfinal match. The thin pages crinkle when they're flipped, a pleasing sound, and the big, brash headlines help set the daily terms of debate in a country obsessed with arguing about football as much as watching...

The boy who lived for football and died for hate

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Abou Omar Brams, right, grew up with a deep love of soccer before radicalizing, and dying, in Syria.

MOLENBEEK, Belgium -- Not long ago, I met a grieving mother so she could tell me about her dead terrorist son. This can be a strange job sometimes, and few moments have been stranger than sitting on a quiet Sunday morning, a little rain falling outside, talking to Geraldine Henneghien. The neighborhood around us, known in Europe as the breeding ground for radical Islam, looked quiet and even quaint.

Abou Omar Brams had curly hair. He hung a poster of New York City on his wall, dreaming of going...

Watching Italy's win with the most interesting man in Milan

Carlo Feltrinelli thinks football in Italy has become dangerous 'because of the racism. Because the stadiums are ugly,' he says.

MILAN -- A real-life contender for the world's most interesting man invited me to Milan to watch the Italy-Spain match, so I met him at a construction site, which were his instructions. I got there, and the security guard clearly expected me, handing me a hard hat and letting me through the gate. An enormous silver and glass structure rose into the sky in the center of Milan. It was blisteringly hot.

Wearing a linen shirt and khaki jacket, Carlo Feltrinelli came to get me.

"This is the most...

First couple of Iceland not ready to go home from 2016 Euro

Aron Gunnarsson, Kris J
Aron Gunnarsson and Kris Jonasdottir have enjoyed Iceland's run into the Round of 16.

PARIS -- Since her partner, Aron Gunnarsson, is the captain of the Iceland team, the darling underdogs of the 2016 Euros, that sort of makes Kris Jonasdottir the first lady of the darling underdogs. She acts the part: funny, smart and, as evidenced by the pictures of her that melt the internet, abs you could crack an egg on. Speaking of eggs, just now she was ordering an omelet, which wasn't on the menu, and instead of eye rolls and grumbles from the French waiter, the person simply left and came...

In Liverpool, Wayne Rooney's world is the Oyster

A half-dozen members of Wayne Rooney's family have played for the neighborhood's beloved amateur football team, Oyster Martyrs FC

LIVERPOOL, England -- The bartender's parents haven't come in for a beer today on account of their blistering hangover -- "even Mum," she says. A few Croxteth regulars sip lagers at a pub named The Lobster, most well-known in fancier parts of Liverpool as the place where a guy got shot in the parking lot by street toughs brandishing a shotgun. The furniture is mismatched and the barstools look rotten, and every few minutes, a song plays on the stereo. The first was by the Police, and then after...

Oxmo Puccino raps about Paris, the World Cup, a world beyond our control

'To me, rappers are the last thermometer of a society' says Oxmo Puccino.

PARIS -- Before he became a rapper, a French hybrid of Biggie and Chuck D, Oxmo Puccino lived in the bleak 19th arrondissement. He and his friends didn't know there was such a thing as the Mona Lisa hanging in a museum across town. Their world revolved around the Danube metro stop, about three blocks west of the ring road that forms the boundary of the city. He never ate in a sit-down restaurant until after his first record came out in 1998. Driving through the "dix-neuf," giving me a tour three...