Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Italy presented 'World Champions' badge

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has today presented reigning World champions Italy with the very first 'FIFA World Champions Badge' to commemorate the 2006 win, while he also used the opportunity in Coverciano to finally hand Italy the trophy.

FIFA present World Cup badgeItaly are the first national team to receive this special badge, which from now on will be awarded after every FIFA World Cup tournament.

The Squadra Azzurra will be able to wear the badge until the next FIFA World Cup in 2010.

"Wearing a badge to mark the team's triumph in 2006 is a way to proudly commemorate, day after day, the title of world champion," said FIFA President Blatter, who personally congratulated the Italian world champions during their training session at the Italian Football Federation's technical centre in Coverciano.

"This badge pays tribute to the world champions and is a gesture of respect and recognition," he added.

"Italy have the honour of being the first team in the history of the World Cup to wear FIFA's new badge," said returning World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi.

"It is a source of great pride for the whole of Italian football."

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon added: "We are the world champions, but we would like to share the joy of wearing the badge on our shirts with all of the fans who were with us during our extraordinary journey back in 2006."

Azzurri shirtThere are two different versions of the badge - white on a golden background and gold on a white background. The World Cup trophy, which was the brainchild of Italian sculptor Silvio Gazzaniga in 1974, is embroidered on the badge.

The four-time World champions will wear the badge for the first time on Saturday when they take on Cyprus in the qualifying process for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

There is already a similar badge for the winners of the FIFA Club World Cup. World football's governing body presented the first such badge to 2007 champions AC Milan in February.

The ceremeny this afternoon was also used by Blatter to finally present the World Cup trophy to captain Fabio Cannavaro.

The FIFA President caused a diplomatic furore after the final in Berlin when he failed to come down on to the field to present Italy the medals and the trophy itself.

He said at the time it was because he "didn't want to cause problems" with a hostile crowd in the wake of Zinedine Zidane's dismissal and France's defeat on penalties, but it remained a matter of confusion and consternation.

"This has never happened before, so you can see how FIFA considers Italy," slammed FIGC chief Giancarlo Abete at the time.

Blatter: It's never too late!This evening however, Blatter was given the chance to rectify the slight by Cannavaro.

"The experience in Germany changed the lives of everyone involved," said the Real Madrid defender.

"We believed in a dream and made it come true, lifting this fantastic Cup. But now we have another opportunity, to silence everyone. This is why I invite President Blatter to hand me the trophy, as he can do that now."

Blatter, who left the then UEFA President Lennart Johansson to do the honours, laughed and noted "It's never too late!"

Source: FIFA

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