The head of the Italian football association has resigned after the country's national team failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in decades. Italy's coach had been sacked last week.
Italian football association (FIGC) President Carlo Tavecchio stepped down on Monday, a week after the national team failed to score in the second and home leg of their qualifying playoff against Sweden, losing 1-0 on aggregate and failing to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
The head of the Italian referees association, Marcello Nicchi, told reporters in Rome that Tavecchio had quit during a meeting at the FIGC's headquarters.
The 74-year-old Tavecchio was first elected as the FIGC's president in August 2014 when he replaced Giancarlo Abete, who had resigned immediately after Italy were knocked out in the first round of the World Cup in Brazil. He was re-elected as head of the federation in March.
Until Monday, Tavecchio had resisted calls for his resignation, blaming Italy's failure to qualify for Russia on head coach Gian Piero Ventura, who was fired after the loss to Sweden.
"The debacle was technical, the coach made the wrong technical choices," a tearful Taveccio said in an interview broadcast on Italian television on Sunday.
Former GIGC President Abete said that an election to appoint Tavecchio's successor would be held within the next 90 days.
Tavecchio is a controversial figure, most notable for having caused an outcry in 2014 when he made a comment about a fictitious African player - who he named Opti Poba - "eating bananas."
He was subsequently banned from holding any position with football's world governing body FIFA for six months while European body UEFA imposed a similar sanction. However, the FIGC cleared him of any wrongdoing.
pfd/mf (AFP, AP, Reuters)