ROME - The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has requested the postponement of a round of Serie A fixtures to help the Italy national team in its preparations for the FIFA World Cup playoffs, FIGC president Gabriele Gravina said on Monday.
European champions Italy risk failing to qualify for a second consecutive World Cup after finishing behind Switzerland in their qualifying group, and they face North Macedonia in a playoff in Palermo on March 24.
Gravina is eager to delay the 30th round of Serie A fixtures, scheduled for the weekend of 19-20 March, in order to give the Azzurri as much preparation time as possible.
“We have asked for a postponement, and we hope that the league can grant (Italy coach) Roberto Mancini a few more days,” Gravina told Radio Anch’io Sport. “It would be another ugly chapter if Italy failed to qualify for an event that symbolizes football in our country.”
— Italy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Azzurri_En) January 28, 2022
Italy finished two points behind Switzerland in their qualifying group, as missed penalties by Jorginho in both of their head-to-head meetings, 0-0 and 1-1 draws, proved costly.
¡Lo falló Jorginho! ✖️El jugador del Chelsea está dejando ir la clasificación directa al Mundial para Italia. ♂️
— TUDN USA (@TUDNUSA) November 12, 2021
The winner of Italy’s first playoff will face either Portugal or Turkey in a winner-takes-all playoff final on March 29 to decide who qualifies for Qatar 2022.
“We need to qualify, we have the conditions to do so. We made it difficult for ourselves by missing two very important penalties. But Italy respond in moments of difficulty,” Gravina said.
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Pritha Sarkar)