Carlo Tavecchio resigns as FIGC president after Italy's World Cup failure
Carlo Tavecchio has defended his record and slammed those who lost faith in him after resigning as president of the Italian FA (FIGC) a week after the national team failed to qualify for next summer's World Cup.
Tavecchio, 74, told an emergency FIGC meeting on Monday that he would be stepping down, and that the advisory board should follow suit. Just a few hours later, he called a news conference in which he fired parting shots at those who had wanted him out, and defended his record.
"I have tendered my resignation, and as a mere political act, I have also asked the advisory board to do the same, but nobody did, so I was alone," Tavecchio told a news conference in Rome.
"In last Wednesday's meeting, I felt that something had changed, but when today I got the feeling that I, with 18 years of experience, was no longer being fully backed, I did not hesitate for an instant. I resigned and I asked for the advisory board to resign."
He confirmed that he made up his mind to resign "at 11:45," just 15 minutes before the emergency meeting was due to start, when he felt that he was being made a scapegoat for Italy's failure to qualify for the World Cup.
He insisted that Italian football's darkest day in 60 years was no good reason for him to finish a job he had started, and was not given the necessary time to finish.
"Carlo Tavecchio is paying because of [Gian Piero] Ventura," Tavecchio said. "We have missed out on qualification for a World Cup and Carlo Tavecchio is the most desperately disappointed for this, not as president but as a person.
"If that ball that hit the post [from Matteo Darmian] had gone in, Carlo Tavecchio would be a hero? No, I would be the same. But these politics cannot go on like this. Reforms cannot be done on a football field.
"Excuse me, this is not just a rant. I've always looked people in their face, in good and in bad. I am here and, if we had scored a goal, Carlo Tavecchio was a big man. I am still 1.71 metres tall. Football has given me a lot, the Lega Dilettanti [amateur football association] has given me a lot, and my team here have given me even more.
"Two hundred and forty people expect to meet me on Saturday and they will all be crying."
Tavecchio remains convinced that the work he has done has been beneficial for Italian football, despite the sore conclusion.
He added: "Did we get four teams in the Champions League for Italian clubs just because I was wearing a blue jacket that day? No, it's because I was the first person to go to UEFA and to FIFA. Is [Michele] Uva the vice-president of UEFA because he's pretty? And FIFA council member Evelina Christillin, who is beautiful, who got her there?"
Tavecchio then read from a document he had prepared in advance, listing his achievements as FIGC president.
"There is a rule which says what is written remains while spoken words are blown away by the wind," he said. "We have introduced norms for sustainability, we've developed women's football, we have a balance sheet which stock market listed companies are envious about.
"All 240 people who have worked for me and will always work for the federation are valuable people; people who work in the interests of the system. [Gaining] four teams in the Champions League, the investment in all of the administration, the complete restructure of [the FIGC training centre in] Coverciano are all things we have achieved.
"We've introduced the VAR [video assistant referees] -- there is a letter from me in 2014 -- I am the one and only first person in Europe who wrote to [former FIFA president Sepp] Blatter asking for technology. The first was [Aldo] Biscardi of RAI [television], then the second was me."
Tavecchio concluded by blaming the Italian media for forcing his hand rather than giving him and the FIGC time to consider the future.
"I asked if we could put this tension back 10 or 14 days," he said. "It was not about finding time for the apocalypse to conclude. We play our next games in March, the Nations League starts in September. Do we need the name of the great conductor [next head coach] before then?
"Can we not keep [one of] our [current youth national team] coaches available for two friendly games? You all need to write pages on who we are picking. I've spoken with four or five great coaches -- they are all busy. None of them say they said no because of Tavecchio -- that is a lie because I've spoken to everybody."
New elections will take place within 90 days, according to FIGC statutes.
Until then, Tavecchio says he will wrap up his three-and-a-half years in the role, adding: "I have just one interest -- to bring to an end these next 90 days."
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.