November 16, 2017 / 6:02 PM / a year ago

Federation boss under pressure as recriminations continue in Italy

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy’s soccer federation president Carlo Tavecchio faced pressure to follow coach Gian Piero Ventura out the door on Thursday as the recriminations continued following their failure to qualify for the World Cup.

Italian Football Federation President Carlo Tavecchio is seen during a meeting at the FIGC (Italian Football Federation) headquarter in Rome, Italy August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

Ventura was sacked on Wednesday, two days after a goalless draw at home to Sweden meant that Italy would miss the finals for the first time since 1958.

The influential sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport devoted an entire editorial on Thursday calling for the 74-year-old Tavecchio, who was responsible for the ill-fated decision to appoint Ventura, to step down.

“It’s not just Ventura but also Tavecchio and the others responsible for the incredible World Cup elimination who are no longer fit for the job,” it said.

Tavecchio, who was re-elected as head of the federation (FIGC) in March when he said that he had restored Italy’s credibility, said on Wednesday he would remain and lead the rebuilding process.

The head of the players’ union Damiano Tommasi walked out of Wednesday’s FIGC meeting early after it became clear Tavecchio would not quit.

“I wanted them to start from scratch,” he said. “The president said he would not resign and the others did not take any position. We need to have elections. Italian football needs something new and different.”

Giovanni Malago, president of the Italian Olympic Committee, has also suggested that Tavecchio should step down.

“Only he can assume responsibility — the decision is his. Personally, if I were in his position, I would resign,” he said.

Torino president Urbano Cairo added his voice on Thursday despite having previously voted for Tavecchio’s re-election.

“My judgement of him is positive but when you’re faced with failure on this monumental scale, there have to be consequences, you can’t just go on as though nothing happened,” he told Gazzetta.

“It’s not enough to put the name of a popular coach on the table.”

Napoli captain Marek Hamsik, a Slovakian international whose own country also failed to qualify for the World Cup, said Italy’s football infrastructure needed improving.

“I’m disappointed that I’m not taking part in the World Cup and I’m disappointed about Italy,” he said. “Italian football is still among the best but it’s a long way behind in terms of infrastructure.

“In this sense, it needs to improve, even Slovakia is building new and modern stadia. I hope Italian football has a look in the mirror and examines its conscience.”

Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern; Editing by Toby Davis

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