Monday, 30 October 2006

Blatter backtracks on Italy slur

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has backtracked on his latest comments by insisting that Italy deserved to win the World Cup this summer.

Blatter caused angry reactions in Italy after stating that he wanted to apologise to Australian fans, as he believed the Socceroos should have gone into the quarter-finals in place of Italy.

“The Italian national team showed us all that they are capable of playing excellent football and proved their superior technical qualities,” said the Swiss official on Monday.

“I only meant to give the Socceroos the credit they deserved, because they played a good match and the lack of experience was probably one of the reasons which didn’t allow them to go to the extra time.”

The director of SBS television, who aired the incriminated interview, confirmed that Blatter never stated that Italy had ‘stolen’ the World Cup.

He added that there was no discussion on the fact that the penalty awarded by Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo to the Azzurri for the challenge on Fabio Grosso was a mistake.

Azzurri legends Gigi Riva and Marco Tardelli had reacted furiously to Blatter, demanding respect for the World Cup winners, while former coach Marcello Lippi had preferred to not make any comments.

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