The Italian Football Federation has sacked national coach Gian Piero Ventura as manager after the Azzurri suffered a 1-0 aggregate defeat by Sweden in the World Cup qualification play-offs that denied the national team a place in the tournament for the first time in 60 years.
In a statement on Wednesday night the Italian federation announced that the Ventura’s 16-month reign was over.
“At the meeting convened by the chairman, Carlo Tavecchio, which was attended by the presidents of the federal members a discussion was had following the failure of the national team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup,” the statement read. “As a first point on the agenda, Tavecchio communicated a decision of the technical guidance committee, and to date, Gian Piero Ventura is no longer the national team head coach.”
The decision was taken after a heating meeting in which the Footballers’ Association president, Damiano Tommasi, walked out shortly after asking Tavecchio if he intended to resign, which the latter refused.
Despite his monumental failure, Ventura said his record was “one of the best of the last 40 years”.
“I lost only two games in two years,” he added in an interview with Italian television show Le Iene before the Italian Football Federation fired him on Wednesday.
Ventura replaced Antonio Conte as the head coach for Italy in June 2016, and was described then as a “master of football” by Carlo Tavecchio. However, Italy took one point out of a possible six against Spain in qualifying and also drew at home to Macedonia.
A decision is yet to be taken on who will succeed him, with Tavecchio telling reporters after the meeting that the federation have been “thinking of important names” to replace Ventura.