Carlo Tavecchio

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Italy soccer chief resigns after failure to reach World Cup

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ROME (AP) Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio has resigned a week after the Azzurri failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Monday’s announcement came following calls for a complete overhaul of the nation’s most popular sport, from the amateur leagues right up to Serie A and the national teams.

[ MORE: What’s next for West Brom? ]

Sweden’s playoff win over Italy kept the four-time champion out of the World Cup for the first time in six decades.

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura was fired two days after the loss.

For the last week, Tavecchio has resisted calls to step down but he eventually lost the support of the federation’s board of directors.

Former federation chief Giancarlo Abete said as he left the board meeting where Tavecchio resigned that a new election would be held within 90 days.

Italian president’s burning remarks provide path for USMNT

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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There’s no question whether the Italian national team job is a different class than the United States men’s national team.

Aside from the fact that both sides failed to qualify for the World Cup, have a vacant manager’s chair, and decent recent results at youth level, the disparity is striking (and not all in negative ways for American fans).

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Italy has won four World Cups and a EURO, and played in four additional title games. Their domestic league is Top Five, and only six pool players who’ve been called up in the last 12 months come from outside Serie A. Three play in the Premier League, two in La Liga, and one in Ligue 1. It’s qualifying slate meant top Spain or face a home-and-home playoff with another top European team.

On the other hand, the U.S. faces the most forgiving qualifying run this side of Oceania. It’s room for improvement on the international stage is much higher, and its current group is so much further from its potential than the Italian side that it’s hard to find an apt comparison (Consider that, playoff loss aside, Italy has beat the following sides in the last 18 months: Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, and Uruguay).

Differences/similarities aside — and yes, it’s a tad ridiculous to get this deep into what separates Italy from the U.S. in terms of soccer — the USSF could do worse than monitoring how the Italians are handling their World Cup disaster.

1) Accepting responsibility without caveats about their previous successes — Here’s federation president Carlo Tavecchio (who it must be noted has said some reprehensible racist things. We would never gloss over something like that, but we’re talking about the soccer side here). After blasting player selection, he then said, ‘Yeah, but I hired the dude”:

“How can you not play [Lorenzo] Insigne? I told the staff, not him. I can’t intervene [with the coach], there are rules. I have to acknowledge it; I chose the coach. It’s been four days that I haven’t slept. I wake up continuously. We have always played crosses against tall defenders, some almost two meters tall. We had to play around them with the little players, who were on the bench.”

2) Waiting a while to make the correct move — By most accounts, this is very much the plan for the United States (especially with a presidential election looming in February). While most new presidents wouldn’t begrudge the hiring of an highly-qualified name, plenty of prospective bosses would want to wait until the new (or current) man in charge cements his place.

Tavecchio dropped plenty of names, and is especially interested in Chelsea’s Antonio Conte. And he said it’ll be worth the wait.

“We’re looking for the best. They already have commitments until June from a contractual point of view. Then when we get to June, who will be free? The ones are Ancelotti, Conte, Allegri, [Claudio] Ranieri and Mancini. This is the truth of those available.”

Granted the U.S. does not have the wealth of elite experience coaches that Italy does, but the Americans are also not limited to hiring an American.

USMNT interim boss Dave Sarachan is a respected soccer name who is not going to light the shop on fire while the right hire is made during this upcoming string of friendlies.

It’s a top-bottom failure. It includes nearly every part of the system, but the man in charge is the most important part considering that the USMNT should qualify for every World Cup and somehow managed to bungle it.

America needs a bungle-free hire.

Italian FA chief in hot water for second discrimination scandal

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Carlo Tavecchio, the head of the Italian FA, is facing more pressure after discriminatory comments attributed to him have been made public by Corriere della Sera.

In a recorded conversation involving the sale of an amateur league’s headquarters, obtained and posted by Italian publication Corriere della Sera, Tavecchio is heard as referring to the buyer as a “lousy Jew” and also made a derogatory comment about gays.

Tavecchio was suspended by UEFA for six months last year when he made references to bananas when talking about imported players in Serie A.

Renzo Ulivieri, the head of the Italian coaches’ association, has spoken out against Tavecchio for his comments, saying, “Certain words shouldn’t be pronounced by anyone, and certainly not by the president of the Italian football federation.”

It is unclear why the conversation was recorded, or why it was then given to the media. Tavecchio has responded by saying he doesn’t remember saying what was published, and believes the audio “might have been manipulated.”

Newly appointed Italian soccer president probed by UEFA amid racism claims

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After being elected last week as the new President of the Italian football federation (FIGC), Carlo Tavecchio is already under investigation by UEFA and could face a three month ban.

The 71-year-old previously referenced bananas when talking about overseas players coming to Italy as professionals. That comment caused quite a stir and many were surprised Tavecchio still went on to be elected as the head of Italian soccer.

[RELATED: Tavecchio elected despite racism issues]

FIFA had urged the FIGC to investigate Tavecchio’s comments and now UEFA have stepped in to make sure that happens.

Tavecchio’s alleged racist comment come when he was talking about England’s strict requirements for overseas players, which Italy doesn’t currently have. He used a hypothetical name in the following comment.

“In England they select players based on professionalism, whereas we say that `Opti Poba’ is here, he was eating bananas before and now he’s starting for Lazio and that’s OK.”

If found guilty of racism, the long standing Italian soccer executive would face a minimum one month ban which could be as long as three. UEFA said the following in a statement on their website.

“Following a request of information made by UEFA on 28 July 2014, Mr Carlo Tavecchio, President of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), has today been personally informed by UEFA about the decision of its Chief Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector to open a disciplinary investigation on alleged racist comments made by him during his FIGC presidential election campaign.

Once the report has been completed, the UEFA Chief Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector will submit its conclusions to the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body to render a decision about this matter.

Further details concerning these proceedings will be announced in due course.”

Tavecchio has since issued a statement on the FIGC’s website and has stated he is “calm and respectful of UEFA’s decision,” while also acknowledging that it is “a required procedure, so we already knew it was coming and I am certain that I can explain also in the UEFA headquarters both my mistake and my real intentions.”

We haven’t heard the last of this, as the racism scandal surrounding the leader of Italian soccer rumbles on.

Carlo Tavecchio elected Italian FA president in the midst of racism issues

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The disappointing World Cup exit for Italian football fans this summer saw both the nation’s manager, Cesare Prandelli, and the Italian FA president, Giancarlo Abete, step down from their respective positions.

While still searching for their coach, the Italian football association has found their new president, after 71-year-old Carlo Tavecchio won an election to take up the reigns, the Guardian reported today.

Tavecchio took 63.63% of third-round votes, followed by runner-up Demetrio Albertini, who won 33.95% of the votes at the election.

Raising eyebrows for supposedly making a comment about African players eating bananas while at a summer assembly of Italy’s amateur leagues.

“In England, they identify the players coming in and if they are professional, they are allowed to play,” Tavecchio said at the assembly, discussing England’s restrictions for non-EU players. “Here instead we get Opti Pobà, who previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first-team player with Lazio. That’s how it is here. In England, you need to demonstrate what you have on your CV and your pedigree.”

Tavecchio didn’t vehemtently deny accusations, apologizing and saying he couldn’t “remember” using the word.

“I can’t remember if I said the word ‘banana’ but I was referring to the CV and professionalism required by English football for players who come from Africa or other countries,” he said. “If anyone has interpreted my speech as offensive, I offer my apologies.”

Thus, his election wasn’t as smooth sailing as originally predicted, but regardless of his previous actions, he vowed to better Italian football.

“I will be a president for everybody, and especially for those who have legitimately expressed their dissent about me taking the job. I wish to thank those who have confirmed their confidence in me and who have made me feel supported even during some difficult times.

“Reforming the system can only be done if we work together, there are no magic wands. Let us embrace a culture of hard work. I invite all members to abandon feelings of division and to get to work.”

Although he didn’t specify the general racism that has been noticeably rampant across Europe this past season, the Dani Alves’ banana incident being the most noteworthy, that topic should be addressed.