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By ESPN Staff

Blatter apologises to Italy for World Cup snub

ROME, Jan 8 (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter apologised to Italians on Monday for not personally presenting the World Cup to the national soccer team after their triumph in Berlin last July.

Blatter said that "history will say it was an error" that the president of world soccer's governing body was not the one to hand over the trophy.

He told reporters in Rome he had apologised to Italy's political and sporting authorities immediately after the final, in which the Azzurri beat France on penalties to take their fourth World Cup title.

Blatter's no-show was widely condemned in Italy as a snub, possibly linked to the match-fixing scandal which had rocked Italian soccer in the preceding months.

Blatter, in Rome to present Juventus's Gianluigi Buffon with a FIFA award as the world's best goalkeeper in 2006, said he had shunned the presentation ceremony because he was afraid of being whistled.

He said that at the World Cup's opening ceremony the crowd had booed and heckled whenever FIFA's name was mentioned and he was anxious to avoid a repeat performance.

For that reason he had decided before the final that he would not present the trophy whichever side won, he said.