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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sacchi Blasted for Italians' Early Exit

ROME -- The Italian media, conducting the inevitable post-mortem after the national soccer team's exit from Euro 96, put the boot in to coach Arrigo Sacchi on Thursday, accusing him of errors and arrogance.


The Turin newspaper La Stampa was a lone voice crying out for understanding for the beleaguered and balding coach whose future everyone else immediately questioned.


"Don't throw tomatoes at Arrigo," the newspaper said in a front-page headline, referring to past receptions given by outraged fans to Italian teams returning home.


"It would be cowardly and taken for granted. It's been done already. It's too easy to attack him now."


The call found few echoes elsewhere, with cries of "Go home, Sacchi" widely reported in match reports as dejected fans trooped home after the 0-0 draw with Germany.


"Italy, the perfect crime," the Gazzetta dello Sport screamed in a banner headline, listing reason after reason why it was a crime for such a talented team as Italy to be returning home from England after just three group matches.


"Is it not a soccer crime for such a team to be coming home?" editor Candido Cannavo asked. "Of course it is."


Cannavo, who had applauded Sacchi's master tactics after Italy beat Russia in their opening match and then derided him for shuffling everything around again for the 2-1 defeat by the Czech Republic, said Sacchi had undone himself.


"This elimination of Italy, with its grotesque and scornful air of a dishonorable defeat, remains marked by the enormous sin of arrogance carried out by the coach and conveyed to the team, with devastating psychological consequences."


His conclusion was that "Sacchi does not know how to run a tournament of this type. He got the approach, the time and the gradual nature of the task completely wrong."


"The failure of this team reopens the problem of who runs the national side," Cannavo added as a final touch.


The Corriere dello Sport printed a large photograph of Sacchi, tight-lipped and looking for all the world like a blind man in his dark glasses, under the headline "It's over."


"It is a defeat that weighs very heavily on the future of Sacchi and of our soccer," it said gravely.


The Corriere della Sera, under the headline "Masters of waste," said it was time for a new coach.


"The history of Sacchi and of his national team is interrupted at the 50th match. He may be talented, he may be a genius but we really need to find a normal coach, one who can help us beat those who are weaker than us," it said.


Not everybody was downhearted however.


In Florence, the Italian team's exit was greeted by klaxons and cheers as the "Anti-Sacchi Club" celebrated.


"If Italy is out, it's all his fault," shouted one youth, while another said: "It's sad for Italy, who deserved better, but for Sacchi it's great it ended this way."


The Italian team was due to fly home on a flight arriving in Milan in the evening and then continuing to Rome.


"If any of you still believe that you have the exact answers, just like in the quiz shows, then throw the first tomato at Arrigo Sacchi," La Stampa said defiantly.