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Euro 2012: Ireland No.2 Marco Tardelli pleads with scandal-hit Italy not to pull out of finals

Published: June 2, 2012 | 8:35 am
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MARCO TARDELLI swears Italy will not pull out of Euro 2012 as they reel under their latest match-fixing scandal.
World Cup winner Tadelli, now No.2 for the Republic of Ireland, fully expects his adopted nation to face the Italians in Group C on June 18 as scheduled.
Azzurri manager Cesare Prandelli insists he would have no problem with his nation pulling out of the finals.
But Tardelli, assistant to Republic boss Giovanni Trapattoni, believes there is little chance of that happening.
He said: “I don’t think so. Italy are very important. They will be in Poland because it is only some players who are allegedly involved in match-fixing.
“Not all of football in Italy is involved.”
Prandelli, who played with Tardelli under Trapattoni at Juventus, had said: “If you told us that for the good of football we should not participate, it wouldn’t be a problem for me.
“There are things I believe are more important.”
However, Tardelli was not convinced the statement should be taken at face value.
He said: “Yes, I am surprised he said it but maybe sometimes Prandelli says some things to pressure the players and the people who are around the team.”
Italian football came under the microscope again on Monday when 19 arrests were made, including that of Lazio captain Stefano Mauri, as part of a police probe, while Zenit St Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito was dropped from Prandelli’s squad after beingquestioned at the national team’s training headquarters.
Tardelli admitted his dismay at the most recent developments and voiced his hope that corruption could finally be eliminated from the game.
He said: “I am very sad but I have lived many times through this situation.
“I knew this situation in 1980 when many players were disqualified, then 10 years ago and now.
“We need to clean it up because if we can carry on with this situation, it is very bad for football and the Italian people.
“I want my people to be recognisedfor the right reasons. They are very honest people.”
Ireland are due to meet Italy in Poznan in what could be a potentially decisive 90 minutes for both sides as the group phase draws to a close.
But despite the investigation, Tardelli does not believe Prandelli and his players will be affected unduly.
He said: “When the players are on the pitch, they play very strongly. They play for Italy and for the other players.”
Criscito hit out after being dropped for the Euros. He said: “I have not done anything wrong in my life.
“I have cried and I am not ashamed of that. I am innocent and a lot of people have to apologise to me.
“Being dropped from the squad makes me a symbol of the scandal. I’m not going to be a scapegoat for situations that have nothing to do with me.”
Italian Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri told the national team to go to the Euros and play with pride.
Prandelli reckoned it might be better for football to take a break in Italy until what appear to be deep-rooted problems with match-fixing are solved.
But with little more than a week until Italy’s opening clash against champions Spain, Cancellieri indicated there would be no call from the authorities for her nation to sit it out.
She said: “The European Championship is a major international tournament. Play and play well for Italy.”
The Irish have had their own drama this week, albeit on a much lesserscale, after Kevin Foley’s controversial deselection and subsequent departure from the squad’s Montecatini training camp.
Trapattoni was clearly unhappy at both the player’s reaction – Foley insisted he was “betrayed” – and persistent probing about the matter yesterday.
But asked if the 73-year-old boss had endured a difficult few days, Tardelli said: “No, why?
“The coach or the manager decides what to do, he decides the 23 players in the squad. It is very sad but it is not difficult.”
Trapattoni is revered in his nativeItaly for his longevity and success having won league titles in four differentcountries and had a spell in charge of the national team.
Tardelli, who has spent much of his own career as both a player and a coach working alongside him, has little doubt as to why he has achieved the status of national treasure.
He said: “Trap is an honest person, that’s the first thing. He is known very much, not just in Italy but around the world.
“He is a good person with people and when he comes here, many people are very close to him.”
The veteran manager was at work yesterday on the training pitch as his players geared up for Monday’s friendly against Hungary in Budapest.
“Keeper Shay Given and defender John O’Shea again played full parts with fears over their fitness receding rapidly.
And there was perhaps a hint as to the side that will start at the Puskas Stadium. In a game at the end of the session O’Shea, Sean St Ledger, Richard Dunne and Steven Ward lined up ahead of Given and behind Damien Duff, Keith Andrews, Glenn Whelan and Aiden McGeady,with Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle up in attack.
That was the team that played largely throughout the qualifying campaign and Trapattoni has indicated that those who start in Budapest are 90 per cent likely to do so again in the opener against Croatia on June 10.
Tardelli said: “The players now are relaxed but I believe when we go to Hungary, it will be possible to change some things in our mentality.
“It’s an important match for us because it’s the start.
“Against Hungary the players will start to focus very strongly for Poland. That is the important thing. ”

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