FIFA Should Change Qualification Rules, It's 'Crazy' Italy Won't Be At World Cup 2022: Roberto Baggio
Italy won the Euro 2022 to become the European champions, but they failed to qualify for the World Cup for 2nd successive time.
Jayanta OinamUPDATED 03 Jun 2022 10:54 pm
For the second successive FIFA World Cup, four-time champions Italy have failed to qualify. The third-most successful side will not be in Qatar when 32 other national teams gather for the 22nd edition. The Azzurri had also missed the ticket to Russia 2018. (More Football News)
For the record, Italy are the UEFA Euro 2022 champions and a football World Cup without the European champions is indeed a "shame". Now, Roberto Baggio has a demand.
"The biggest shame is that Italy didn't go straight to Qatar having won the European Championship," said Baggio, who made 54 appearances for Italy.
Italy finished second behind Switzerland in Group C of the European qualifiers, then suffered a shock play-off semi-final defeat to North Macedonia in March. In the final, Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal beat North Macedonia to book the Qatar ticket.
"We should change the rules. It's scandalous, it seems crazy to me. Will these guys have earned a reward or not? If I had been in their place I don't really know how I would have reacted," Marca quoted Roberto Baggio as saying.
In 2017, having lost the first leg of the play-off by a solitary goal to Sweden, Italy could manage only a goalless draw in the return fixture. And they missed a World Cup (2018) for the first time since 1958.
"It's the worst thing to accept, because in a 90-minute match anything can happen, one thing goes wrong and you stay at home?" added Baggio.
The clash between the European (UEFA) and South American (CONMEBOL) champions presented Roberto Mancini's men a chance to redeem themselves at a venue where they had defeated England to become the continental champions only a year ago. But the defeat left Italy deflated.
Italy will be in action on Sunday against Germany in their UEFA Nations League 2022-23 match. They are in the Group A3, along with England and Hungary.
Baggio, however, defended the team and manager Roberto Mancini, saying the team is mentally suffering from their failure to qualify for the World Cup.
"The team has great talent, but the Azzurri have suffered greatly from being eliminated from the World Cup, the psychological backlash was enormous," Baggio added. "The level of calmness of the two teams on the pitch was not comparable."
Italy were the world champions in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006. In total, they have eight top-four finishes, having appeared in the 1970 and 1994 finals too. They finished third and fourth in 1978 and 1990, respectively.
Known as the 'Divine Ponytail', Baggio is considered as one of the greatest footballers of all time. The former Jeventus star won the Ballon d'Or in 1993. He scored 27 goals for Italy.