Giampiero Ventura

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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.

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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.

Italy sack Ventura after World Cup failure

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The most inevitable news of this week is now official: Giampiero Ventura has been sacked as Italy’s national team manager after they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Italy not reaching the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958 was always going to have this outcome.

Following Italy’s 0-0 draw at home against Sweden on Monday, which sealed their elimination from the World Cup after a 1-0 playoff defeat across the two legs, Ventura failed to hand in his resignation as he wanted to speak with officials at the Italian Football Association (FIGC).

The 67-year-old did that on Wednesday and was fired. Below is a statement from the FIGC.

“During a meeting called by FIGC president Carlo Tevecchio… the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia was discussed. As the first order of business Tevecchio revealed the release of the entire technical team and, from today onwards, Gian Piero Ventura is no longer coach of the national team.”

His boss at the Italian FA, Carlo Tavecchio, is also said to be in a perilous position as the four-time World Cup champs are reeling from missing out on the World Cup tournament for just the third time in their history.

Ventura took charge of Italy in the summer of 2016 after Antonio Conte left for Chelsea and had a deal through the 2018 World Cup.

Early favorites to take charge of the Azzurri are Carlo Ancelotti and current Chelsea boss and former Italy coach Conte, while Roberto Mancini and Massimilliano Allegri are both said to be contenders for the position.

Italy coach to give Balotelli pre call-up interview

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Mario Balotelli‘s on a goal-a-game pace for the surprise leaders of Ligue 1, but still cannot escape his reputation.

The French striker, author of 8 goals in 8 league matches for Nice and 10 in 13 overall, has earned a call-up from Italy on production.

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But it’s more than production for the mercurial 26-year-old Balotelli, and Italy boss Giampiero Ventura needs to talk to the striker before he agrees to bring him back into the fold for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.

He has 13 goals in 33 caps, the last tally coming against England in Italy’s World Cup opening win in Brazil.

From the Associated Press:

“No one doubts that Mario is a talented player and I have nothing against him,” Ventura said. “But for every player, not just Balotelli, what counts is the ability to be part of a group, to make sacrifices and share an understanding.

“There are those who are used to doing so and others who aren’t. After the conversation I will have with him, he will have to ask questions of himself, and above all give himself answers.”

Balotelli has more than a few bizarre tales in his dossier. Though more than a part of us wonders whether this would happen with any other player on Balotelli’s blistering form, we imagine it would take Balotelli literally slapping Ventura for a call-up not to happen.

With Andrea Belotti and Ciro Immobile among those vying for playing time, there are other suitors should Balotelli drop the ball (so to speak). This could be his last chance to impress Gli Azzurri.

Ventura is has three wins, two draws, and a single loss since taking the reigns of Italy.

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Italy coach Ventura wants Serie A to start earlier next year

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MILAN (AP) Italy coach Giampiero Ventura has asked league officials to start the Serie A season earlier next year to ensure the Azzurri are better prepared for their key World Cup qualifier against Spain.

Spain tops Group G, above Italy on goal after four games. The two drew 1-1 in October in Turin and the return match is scheduled for Sep. 2. Only group winners qualify directly for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

This year’s Serie A campaign began Aug. 20.

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“We’re a bit set in our ways, but everyone else starts August 13,” Ventura said. “It’s in the national interest to play on level terms. I’ve already asked to play at least two more league matches. In a moment of madness I asked for three, but they told me to check myself into hospital.”

Italy lost an international friendly 3-1 to France in Ventura’s first match in charge in September, just two matches into the league season.

“This year we had very little Serie A before playing France and we paid the price,” Ventura added. “I hadn’t even talked to any players until 48 hours before the match …We lost 3-1 and it was labeled a disaster because that’s the culture that we have here.”

Ventura, who was speaking at a press conference in Milan ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Germany, says league officials are mulling it over.

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“I know it will be difficult,” said the former Torino coach. “But you have to change things by 360 degrees or you’ll go forward in dribs and drabs. In order to achieve great things you have to create the prerequisites.”

The league campaign in France and England started on Aug. 13 this year, while the Spanish season got underway the following week, on the same day as the Italian one.

The German Bundesliga started a week after that.

Italy names Conte’s successor in Torino boss Ventura

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Giampiero Ventura is set to take over the reigns for Italy after Euro 2016.

Current manager Antonio Conte has been leading Gli Azzurri since 2014, and leaves to take over Chelsea following this summer’s tournament.

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Ventura, 68, has managed all over Italy in a 40-year career that started in Sampdoria and last saw him at Torino.

The Euro will be Conte’s only major tournament as Italy boss.