By Andrew Warshaw
November 21 – It isn’t every day that the head of a federation resigns as well as the coach following the failure of the national team. But then Italy is not just any team.
Outspoken Italian football federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio fell on his sword on Monday, a week after the country was plunged into collective shock by failing to qualify for the World Cup finals for the first time in 60 years.
An angry Tavecchio , who followed in the footsteps of Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura, told a news conference he had resigned because he had lost support within the FIGC, not because of the team’s results.
“I resigned as a political act to the Council, certainly not for sporting reasons,” he said. “I asked the members of the Federal Council to resign as well and nobody did, they left me on my own.”
Often referring to himself in the third person, he said he had been the victim of a media witchhunt and had been as affected as any fan by Italy’s elimination.
“The only thing missing was Tavecchio on the cross,” he said. “We have missed out on qualification for a World Cup and Carlo Tavecchio is the most desperately disappointed for this, not as president but as a person.”
In a staunch defence of his own position, Tavecchio listed his achievements and made a point of stressing it had not been his decision to appoint Ventura, who had never won a major title at club level and who many believed was hopelessly out of his depth. But laying the blame for the playoff defeat to Sweden – Italian football’s darkest day for 60 years – squarely at the feet of his own national coach was injudicious to say the least.
“Everyone knows that I wasn’t the one who chose Ventura. (But) Tavecchio pays because of Ventura,” he said.
Tavecchio was first elected as FIGC boss in August 2014 replacing Giancarlo Abete, who resigned immediately after Italy were knocked out in the first round of the World Cup in Brazil. He was re-elected as head of the federation in March insisting he had restored Italy’s credibility.
But throughout his tenure he frequently courted controversy, most notably when he was banned for six months by UEFA over disparaging comments about players “eating bananas” when referring to too many foreigners in Italian football.
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