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Italy football federation chief Tavecchio resigns amid World Cup chaos

Rome (AFP) – Italian football federation chief Carlo Tavecchio became the latest victim of the Azzurri’s World Cup qualifying disaster falling on his sword Monday, days after the sacking of coach Gian Piero Ventura.

A week after missing out on qualifying for the World Cup final for the first time since 1958, former World Cup superstars Italy find themselves in a power vacuum.

The 74-year-old had come under fire notably from Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) president Giovanni Malago for not quitting immediately after Italy’s 1-0 aggregate play-off defeat to Sweden.

His hand was forced during a meeting of the FIGC’s federal council in Rome when the veteran official found himself abandoned by his remaining supporters in the Amateur League.

In an explosive press conference afterwards an angry Tavecchio insisted he was at a loss to understand why he alone had to take the rap.

“I resigned, and as a mere political act, I asked those of the Federal Council to join me, but none of them did so it’s just me,” he said.

“I think we’ve reached a point of no return. The political picture hadn’t changed until this morning.

“Serious decisions were taken, when the most important subjects, Serie A and B, are absent.”

Leadership elections for both bodies are scheduled this month and Tavecchio had wanted to present his plan for the renaissance of Italian football before all components.

But his opponents wanted his head and elections for a new president are planned within a delay of 90 days.

The outgoing president should organise elections but Malago announced that CONI were stepping in to manage the affairs of FIGC.

– Paying for Ventura –

A furious Tavecchio defended his record, noting that Italy will  from next season have four teams qualify directly for the Champions League and were largely instrumental in the election of Aleksander Ceferin as UEFA president.

“Carlo Tavecchio is paying for having chosen Ventura,” he said, insisting that the choice of the Italian coach had been made by 2006 World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi.

“If we had scored a goal, I would be standing tall. And in the end I’m still 1.61 metres,” said Tavecchio.

“One error that I regret? Not having intervened during the break at the San Siro to change coach.”

In the meanwhile, the Italian national team is without a coach with talk of initial frontrunner Carlo Ancelotti, who was sacked by Bayern Munich in September, cooling according to Italian media.

“I’ve spoken with four or five big name coaches. They can say what they like but none will say they didn’t want to come because of Tavecchio. It’s a lie,” blasted the former FIGC chief.

Nevertheless the current state of Italian football is not proving an attractive one for potential candidates.

There is however no urgency with Italy having just two friendly matches in March scheduled for the next six months, which could see an interim coach, such as youth coach Luigi Di Biagio, step into the breach.

Tavecchio was elected president of the FIGC after a landslide vote in his favour in 2014 that saw 18 of the 20 Serie A clubs back him.

He won the vote despite it coming just weeks after making racist slurs, referring to black players who “ate bananas” before they came to play in Italy. He has also in the past stirred controversy for anti-semitic and homophobic comments.

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