Italian press laments World Cup 'apocalypse' - Saudi Gazette

Italian press laments World Cup 'apocalypse'

A vendor shows front pages of newspapers a day after the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Italy and Sweden, on Tuesday in Rome. Italy failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958 on Monday as they were held to a 0-0 draw in the second leg of their play-off at the San Siro by Sweden, who qualified with a 1-0 aggregate victory. — AFP

ROME — The Italian press on Tuesday lamented the national squad's failure to reach the World Cup for the first time in 60 years as a sporting catastrophe.

"Italy, this is the apocalypse," ran a headline on the website of sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport shortly after Monday night's 0-0 draw with Sweden in the second leg of the play-off for a place at Russia 2018.

The stalemate meant Sweden advanced thanks to a 1-0 victory in Friday's first leg. "Wasted chances, a bit of bad luck but zero goals in 180 minutes against the Swedes, who will go to Russia," Gazzetta commented, making clear its view that Italy had not done enough to earn qualification.

"The referee denied us a penalty, but our opponents should have had two," the paper noted.

The other major sports daily, Corriere dello Sport, headlined with: "Italy out of the World Cup", and underlined how painful it will be for the country to be on the sidelines when the action kicks off in Russia in June.

"In only a few months time we will be watching the World Cup for everyone else: for the first time in 60 years we will be on the outside," the daily noted in an editorial piece. "It is an intolerable football shame, an indelibile stain.

"It is over. Apocalypse, tragedy, catastrophe. Call it how you see it, but please, spare us the speeches on a system that isn't working: our football is in a serious crisis but it is not inferior to its Swedish or its Swiss counterparts."

An online headline in center-left broadsheet La Repubblica read simply: "Goodbye Russia", while Turin's La Stampa proclaimed: "Disaster for Italy, we won't be going to the World Cup." — AFP