Italy's Maneskin pose for pictures on stage with the trophy after winning the final of the 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021. AFP/Kenzo Tribouillard
ROTTERDAM - Italian rock foursome Maneskin won the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam on Saturday in a glammed-up message of hope for a world emerging from the coronavirus pandemic.
As the tournament returned after a year off because of the virus, the high-kicking, lederhosen-wearing Italians beat off stiff competition from France and Switzerland with their song "Zitti e Buoni".
Italy's third Eurovision win and its first since 1990 came after a nailbiting end to the kitschy competition, which went ahead amid strict protocols including mass testing and an audience limited to 3,500 people.
The theme of this year's Eurovision was "Open Up", and the Dutch government-backed coronavirus restrictions could be a model for mass events such as Euro 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics.
Maneskin, featuring three men and one woman, said the whole evening of stomping songs and flamboyant costumes would bring cheer after more than a year of COVID-19.
"We think that the whole event was a relief", singer Damiano David said after showering his bandmates with champagne during a press conference.
"It was really incredible, the whole event, this Eurovision is going to be a lighthouse."
Bassist Victoria De Angelis said their victory "could be a message of hope" to Italy, which was one of the countries in Europe hardest hit by the virus.
"We're honoured to be bringing it back after 31 years," she said of the Eurovision title, which means Italy is due to host next year.