ROME (AP) Already in serious crisis following the Azzurri’s failure to qualify for the World Cup, the Italian football federation is facing emergency measures after four failed votes to elect a new president.
The election assembly fell apart on Monday when amateur leagues president Cosimo Sibilia ordered his supporters to leave their ballots empty in the final round.
“After having sought to reach an agreement in every manner possible, we can’t proceed further,” Sibilia told the nearly 300-person assembly near the end of the 10-hour election.
In the third round, Sibilia led with 39 percent of the votes, slightly ahead of Serie C president Gabriele Gravina with 38 percent. Players’ Association president Damiano Tommasi, a reform candidate and former Roma player, was eliminated with 21 percent.
A majority was needed to win.
While there was no hope for a winner, a fourth vote was held that resulted in Gravina leading with 39 percent and Sibilia with 2 percent.
The Italian Olympic Committee, which oversees all sports in Italy, will likely impose an emergency leader for the federation.
“This is a loss for our system. … But it’s fair that someone from outside gives us a hand,” Tommasi said. “Maybe it’s not a coincidence that we didn’t qualify for the World Cup.”
After Tommasi was eliminated, the Players’ Association’s refusal to throw its weight behind Sibilia or Gravina ended any hope of a successful election.
“We needed change and we believed that neither of the two candidates seriously represented reform,” Tommasi said. “One of the reasons we didn’t qualify for the World Cup is due to our administrative struggles.”
The federation was previously put under emergency leadership in 2006, when ex-senator Guido Rossi took charge following the “Calciopoli” refereeing scandal.
“An emergency administration would be a loss for everyone,” Torino president Urbano Cairo said. “It means refusing to find a solution for re-launching the sport. Having someone from outside take charge is something negative and I don’t like it.”
Sibilia, a supporter of previous president Carlo Tavecchio, also led the first two rounds of voting, when 75 percent and 66 percent of the votes were needed to win, respectively.
“It’s not something to laugh at,” former FIGC president Giancarlo Abete said of the failed votes. “It’s something to cry over.”
The election was called after Tavecchio resigned in November after Italy’s playoff loss to Sweden meant the four-time champion missed out on the sport’s showcase event for the first time in six decades.
“The fans needed someone to blame but we’ve done a lot of positive things in the FIGC and that should not be forgotten,” Tavecchio said in his outgoing address, which was met by a standing ovation.
In the meantime, Italy’s national team remains without a coach.
Gian Piero Ventura, the previous coach, was fired two days after the playoff loss.
Carlo Ancelotti, Antonio Conte, and Roberto Mancini are among the leading candidates to replace Ventura.
Italy’s next match is on March 27, a friendly against England in London.