SOFIA (Reuters) - Italy coach Antonio Conte has received death threats from angry fans who blame his training methods for the injury which was initially believed to have ruled midfielder Claudio Marchisio out for the rest of the season.
Italy’s medical staff announced that Serie A leaders Juventus’s Marchisio suffered ruptured knee ligaments during the warm-up for Friday’s training session ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifier against Bulgaria on Saturday.
“I saw him (Conte) shaken this morning,” Italian football federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio told Radio Rai on Saturday. “After yesterday’s controversy, he received death threats on the internet.
“I met with Conte for a long time and he is not calm. All these things have been said on social networks and he feels vilified for something that is not his fault. The FIGC stands by him.”
Conte was criticised by John Elkann, the president of the holding company which controls FIAT and Juventus, who said the Italy coach worked the players too hard during the national team’s training camps.
“Perhaps he’d like to be remembered as the cherry-picker with the highest number of injuries,” Elkan told Italian media.
Former Juventus coach Conte defended his methods.
“I wonder why Elkann didn’t ask me that when I was at Juventus? We don’t work hard, we work well,” the 45-year-old told a news conference in Sofia ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifier.
Italian media reported that Conte was reconsidering his position as Italy coach after the death threats.
The Italian FA was not immediately available to comment.
Juventus, however, said Marchisio could be back in action within days.
“After returning from international duty on Friday afternoon, Claudio Marchisio underwent medical examinations conducted by Juventus club doctors and Dr Flavio Quaglia,” the club said in a statement.
“The 29-year-old then underwent an MRI scan on his right knee this evening. The tests ruled positive, excluding the possibility of a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament. Marchisio will now rest, and his condition is to be monitored on a day-to-day basis.”
Marchisio underwent his first examination at the Istituto Fanfani in Florence, close to Italy’s training ground.
“I spoke to my colleagues in Turin, explained what happened and organised to send the lad straight to the club for further tests,” Italy doctor Enrico Castellaci said.
“Juve gave me the all-clear to make the diagnosis public. That night, I contacted the Juve medics again. Now there are two contrasting test results. Naturally, I’d be very happy if the later test was confirmed. These are the facts.”
Castellaci’s explanation prompted jokes on social media with Italian media and fans labelling the national team’s medical staff as a “laughing stock”.
Italy have won three matches and drawn one to sit second on 10 points in Group H, behind Croatia on goal difference. Bulgaria are fourth with four points.
Reporting by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Ed Osmond