Giampiero Ventura is set to learn his fate as Italy boss in the next 24 hours after the Azzurri failed to reach the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.
Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio has called a meeting to discuss the country’s failure to qualify for next year’s tournament in Russia.
Gianluigi Buffon was one of several star names to call time on their international careers, bringing the curtain down on his 175-cap stint after Monday’s goalless draw with Sweden in Milan, which saw them lose their qualifying play-off 1-0 and meant that the four-time world champions would be absent from next year’s finals.
It is the first time since 1958 that an Italian team has not qualified for a World Cup and the fallout has reverberated around the game, with Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport hailing the arrival of the ”apocalypse”.
In quotes reported on figc.it, Tavecchio said: “We are deeply bitter and disappointed for the failure to qualify for the World Cup, it is a sports failure that needs a shared solution and for this reason I called a meeting tomorrow with all the federal components to conduct a thorough analysis and decide on future choices.”
The 69-year-old Ventura, who is under contract until 2020, apologised after the match, but stopped short of resigning.
He said in a post-match press conference which he arrived at well over an hour after full-time: “At this moment I can only apologise to the Italians, not for the will or effort but for the result which as I know is the main thing.
“I arrived late (for the press conference) because I wanted to say goodbye to the players one by one. Have I resigned? No, because I haven’t even spoken with the (Italian Football Federation) president. There’s an infinite number of things to evaluate, we’ll speak with the Federation, we’ll evaluate the situation.”
While Ventura’s ongoing role with Italy remains uncertain, it is the end for Buffon, Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Barzagli – all members of the 2006 World Cup-winning squad.
Giorgio Chiellini could also decide to pack it in – meaning Italy would lose a combined 461 caps from those four players.
A tearful Buffon, who had already decided to hang up his gloves after Russia 2018, said in quotes reported by www.figc.it: “I’m not sorry for myself but all of the Italian football movement.
“We failed with our aim which could have also been really important on a social level. This is the only regret that I have, even if my last competitive game coincides with failure to qualify for the World Cup.”
De Rossi, 34, said: “It’s a black moment for Italian football and a really dark one for us players who were a part of the past two years.”
The 36-year-old Barzagli said: “I think this is the biggest disappointment of my life in football.”
Chiellini is four games away from bringing up 100 caps for Italy, but it remains to be seen if the 33-year-old Juventus defender will carry on.
He said: “I don’t know if Italy will go again with Chiellini, the team will start again with a lot of guys born in the 1990s. In the end, we deserved to go out. I don’t cling to good or bad luck, we gave all that we had but it wasn’t enough.”