Italy have twice before won the World Cup following a match-fixing scandal but coach Cesare Prandelli says he does not read too much into that statistic.
The country is once again gripped by the shame of a match-fixing episode just ahead of a major international tournament but Prandelli believes it would be wrong to expect another instance of triumph through adversity.
In 1982 Italy won their third World Cup just two years after the Totonero scandal that saw star forward Paolo Rossi banned for two years and only just allowed back in time to fire the Azzurri to triumph.
“I don’t subscribe to the theory that Italians thrive in difficulty, we thrive in serenity”
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli
Then in 2006 Calciopoli broke but again Italy regrouped, dug deep and finished victorious for the fourth time at a World Cup.
But Prandelli would still prefer to avoid such affairs that have seen him ditch first choice left-back Domenico Criscito from his tournament squad due to the 25-year-old’s implication in Calcioscommesse.
“As I’ve said before it seems to me that comparisons with 2006 are familiar ground,” he said.
“People say that adversity unites a group and I hope that’s the case.
“But I don’t subscribe to the theory that Italians thrive in difficulty, we thrive in serenity.”
The current sports betting scandal, which has seen the involvement of some high profile names such as Lazio captain and former Italy international Stefano Mauri, involves Italian clubs but not the national team.
And Prandelli says it is the national team’s job to make the public forget about their domestic club woes.
“We’re Italy and we have to put on a brave face even in the most uncomfortable moments,” he said.
“We have to tackle the most sensitive themes with the dignity of people who approach their own work in the most serious manner.
“These players are sensitive lads but they’re lucky, they can let their tensions out on the pitch.
|Defender Domenico Criscito has been left out of the squad following allegations against him [AFP]|
“When they’ve got rid of their mental fatigue they can play football.”
Prandelli also spoke of his pain at ditching Criscito, claiming he did so for the player’s own good.
But he denied accusations of double standards as he is taking Leonardo Bonucci to the Euros despite his implication in Calcioscommesse.
Police affected a search warrant against Criscito whereas Bonucci has merely been accused of involvement by a former team-mate, who himself has admitted to taking a bribe.
“It was very painful cutting Criscito from the 23 from a human perspective,” added Prandelli.
“We couldn’t make him shoulder the responsibility of carrying that around with him at the Euros, we wanted to offer him protection.
“He told me straight away that he has nothing to do with it and we believe in him.
“But the most annoying thing is that people have likened Bonucci’s situation to Criscito’s.
“But he hasn’t been served notice of anything and that’s why he’s coming to the Euros.”
In further developments, former Italy international forward Christian Vieri has been summonsed to give evidence to the Cremona public prosecutor relating to an intercepted telephone call between footballer Antonio Bellavista and Ivan Tisci, both of whom have been arrested.
Meanwhile Lazio insist they have nothing to do with the investigation despite the involvement of Mauri.
It has been suggested that Lazio could lose their place in next season’s Europa League over the affair.
Two Lazio matches, against Genoa and Lecce, from last season are believed to have been fixed.