Ventura pays price for Italy's ignominy

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-17 08:58

ROME - Ignoring calls to resign, the head of Italy's soccer federation fired national coach Gian Piero Ventura on Wednesday - 48 hours after the Azzurri were eliminated from World Cup qualifying by Sweden.

Federation boss Carlo Tavecchio was blunt in stating: "I spoke with Ventura today and told him that his services are no longer needed."

Ventura was fired amid a maelstrom of vociferous and impassioned criticism, with his tactical decisions blamed for Italy's failure to reach soccer's biggest showcase for the first time in six decades following the four-time champion's 1-0 playoff exit on Monday.

Ventura's contract was recently extended to 2020 but included a stipulation that it could be voided in case qualification was not achieved.

Carlo Ancelotti, who was fired by Bayern Munich in September, was being mentioned by Italian media as a likely replacement but no new coach was immediately named.

"We also thought about some important coaches and we'll try to possibly sign one of them," Tavecchio said.

Damiano Tommasi, president of the Italian players' union, abandoned a summit called to assess the failed qualification when it became apparent Tavecchio would not step down.

"We believe we've got to start the rebuilding process with elections," said Tommasi, who played for Italy and helped Roma win the 2001 Serie A title.

"It doesn't seem like there's any desire to restart from zero. The problems of Italian football can't be resolved with just the firing of the national team coach.

"Otherwise we'll continue to remix the same minestrone (soup) that has caused indigestion for so many of us."

Tavecchio has called a board meeting for Monday to present his reforms, which, he revealed, could affect the domestic leagues.

Tavecchio's status was also brought into question by Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago.

"It's up to the boss to take responsibility but if I were him I would resign," Malago said.

There is a precedent, since both Giancarlo Abete, the previous federation president, and coach Cesare Prandelli resigned immediately after Italy was eliminated in the first round of the 2014 World Cup.

Tavecchio was first voted to succeed Abete in 2014 despite a racist comment during his election campaign.

UEFA banned Tavecchio for six months for after he made a reference to bananas when discussing the presence of foreign players in Italy, but he was re-elected to another four-year term in March this year.

Ventura last year succeeded Antonio Conte, who left to coach Chelsea after taking Italy to the European Championship quarterfinals.

The 69-year-old Ventura was a journeyman coach whose previous employer were Udinese, Cagliari, Napoli, Messina, Hellas Verona, Pisa, Bari and Torino.

Ventura's attachment to two forwards he coached at Torino - Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti - and his refusal to use a threepronged attack, led him to continually leave Napoli winger Lorenzo Insigne on the bench.

One of the most coveted players in Europe and instrumental in Napoli's ascent to Serie A's summit this term, Insigne bizarrely replaced Marco Verratti in central midfield late in the opening leg against Sweden and played none of the second leg in Milan.

Ventura leaves with a record of nine wins, four draws and three losses.

Ancelotti, who coached Juventus and AC Milan before going abroad to win titles with Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern, has the big-club resume that Ventura lacked.

Other options include installing a caretaker and luring back Conte, or perhaps Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri or Zenit St. Petersburg's Roberto Mancini, once the club season ends.

"Ancelotti is definitely a great coach and a great person. He would be a great choice," said the president of the Italian coaches' association, Renzo Ulivieri.

"But other considerations need to be made. We need to talk with him and look around."

Associated Press

Ventura pays price for Italy's ignominy

(China Daily 11/17/2017 page24)

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349