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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Donadoni now a dead man walking with Italy

Italian football chiefs have revealed that coach Roberto Donadoni's contract could be torn up after the Azzurri failed to reach the Euro 2008 semi-final.

Donadoni is under fire following Italy's quarter-final exit and Giancarlo Abete, the president of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), who is set to meet with the coach in the next few days, has admitted the axe could fall.

In a meeting with the Italian Olympic Committee Abete outlined to them the details of Donadoni's contract, illustrating how easy it would be to part ways with the 44-year-old.

'The coach's contract is such that in the case of not reaching the semi-finals, if there is not a mutual desire to prolong it, it will be dissolved,' he said. 'I don't have to proceed with any dismissal.

'The contract signed at Baden with Donadoni made provision for the automatic renewal for two years if we reached the semi-final or, if we didn't reach the semi-final as unfortunately happened, the job would fall to both parties to evaluate in the 10 days following our elimination from the Euros whether to continue with the contract or if instead to consider the situation unviable and therefore dissolve it.

'In case I believe that I should not keep the coach, I do not have to proceed with any dismissal: the agreement foresees in fact the simple dissolution of the relationship.'

Abete also revealed that Donadoni would not receive a penny if his contract was dissolved, as the coach himself rejected a clause stipulating a compensation fee of just under a million euros.

Donadoni turned down the federation's initial contract offer, claiming it showed 'limited faith' in him, but then rejected a different option in favour of the original deal which he signed on May 22.

If Donadoni had been successful he would have been handsomely rewarded but failure in Austria and Switzerland means he could depart empty-handed.

'I found myself in front of a contract where there was a relevant prize for reaching the semi-finals, final or for winning the Euros,' continued Abete. 'It was the intention of the federation throughout the qualifiers to continue with the relationship. That was absolutely the objective.

'When we qualified, discussions on a new contract began. And the federation proposed a deal which would have meant the contract would be renewed automatically for two years if we reached the semi-finals.

'But Donadoni interpreted this as having limited faith in him. So then a new deal was offered, which included a compensation clause of 900,000 euros.

'At the end, not long before the Euros, Donadoni asked me to return to what had been the federation's original proposal, without any compensation clause.'

The terms of the contract, coupled with Sunday's quarter-final loss on penalties to Spain, look likely to spell the end of Donadoni's reign.

However, Abete is confident there will be no hard feelings between the pair.

'Donadoni understood that I acted like that not because of distrust but that I only had the intention of protecting interests that weren't mine personally but that of the federation,' added Abete.

'We didn't mention that the compensation clause had been removed because that, with the European Championship imminent, would have been interpreted badly.

'Instead, Donadoni understood the spirit of our proposals.'

Reports in Italy suggest Donadoni could face the axe as early as Thursday or Friday but an FIGC spokesman confirmed to PA Sport: 'At this point in time there's no news on the future of Donadoni.

'In the next few days Mr Abete will meet Donadoni and the pair will sit down and talk about his future as Italy coach. I don't know when it's going to be because nothing's been organised yet. But it'll be in the next few days.

'I can't tell you when it's going to be or even the formalities of it. All I can say is that it will happen soon.'


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