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FOOTBALL

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura refuses to resign despite World Cup fail

Gian Piero Ventura defended "one of the best records in 40 years" on Wednesday, as he refused to resign as Italy coach despite failing to lead the four-time champions to the World Cup finals.

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura refuses to resign despite World Cup fail
Gian Piero Ventura is blamed for Italy's World Cup flop. Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP.

“I lost only two games in two years,” Ventura told Italian television show Le Iene in a brief interview as he boarded a flight to Bari.

The 69-year-old is under contract until June 2020 but has not resigned despite a 1-0 aggregate play-off defeat to Sweden that saw Italy miss the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

“I apologised to Italians for this result. It's horrible to see a World Cup without Italy, but it's done now and I can't do anything about it.”

Ventura disagreed with the journalist interviewing him that the Azzurri had played “very badly” for the past two years.

“No, because my record is one of the best of the last 40 years. I lost only two games in two years,” added Ventura.

The coach's future should be decided during a meeting of the Italian football federation in Rome on Wednesday.

Since the former Torino coach took over in July 2016 Italy have lost three matches – against France in Bari (3-1), Spain in Madrid (3-0) and against Sweden in the World Cup first-leg play-off in Solna (1-0) – winning nine and drawing four.

It has been estimated that Italy's failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958 could cost the economy a billion euros in lost sponsorship and business.

“It will be sad. But what can I do? Unfortunately it's done,” added the Italy coach.

Ventura made no announcement about his position after Monday's second leg 0-0 draw against Sweden, despite failing to lead the 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006 winners to their 19th World Cup.

The former Torino coach said he would first talk to the Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio, who is also under pressure to resign, before making a decision on his future.

“Resign? I don't know. I have to evaluate an infinity of things. I have not yet spoken to the president,” said Ventura.

“It doesn't depend on me, I'm not in the state of mind to face this question.”

Former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has been touted by the Italian press as the favourite to replace Ventura, as the 58-year-old Italian is free since being sacked by Bayern Munich.


Carlo Ancelotti. Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP.

FOOTBALL

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.

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