Marco Tardelli dismisses Italy’s offer to make sensational withdrawal from Euro 2012 over scandal
WORLD Cup winner Marco Tardelli is not expecting the Republic of Ireland's Group C rivals Italy to make a sensational withdrawal from Euro 2012.
Manager Cesare Prandelli has insisted he would have no problem with the Italians pulling out of the finals as yet another match-fixing scandal engulfs the country's domestic game.
However, former Italy international Tardelli, Giovanni Trapattoni's assistant, believes there is little chance of that happening.
He said: "I don't think so, I don't think so. Italy is very important. They will be in Poland because it is only some players [who are allegedly involved].
"Not all of football in Italy is involved."
Prandelli, who played with Tardelli under Trapattoni at Juventus, had earlier told RaiSport: "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 that I believe are more important."
However, Tardelli was not convinced the suggestion 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 that are around the team."
Italian football came under the microscope once again on Monday when 19 arrests were made, including that of Lazio captain Stefano Mauri, as part of a police investigation, while Zenit St Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito was dropped from Prandelli's squad after being questioned at the national team's training headquarters.
Tardelli admitted his dismay at the most recent developments and voiced his hope that corruption could be eliminated from the game once and for all.
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 recognised for the right reasons. They are honest people."
Ireland are due to meet Italy in Poznan on June 18 in what could be a potentially decisive 90 minutes for both sides as the group phase draws to a close.
But despite the ongoing investigation, Tardelli does not believe Prandelli and his players will be affected unduly.
He said: "No, I don't think so. When the players are on the pitch, they play very strongly. They play for Italy and for the other players."
The Republic have had their own drama this week, albeit on a much lesser scale, following Kevin Foley's controversial deselection and subsequent departure from the Montecatini training camp.
Trapattoni was clearly unhappy at both the player's reaction - Foley said he felt "betrayed" - and persistent questioning on the matter yesterday.
But asked if the 73-year-old 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's very sad, but not difficult."
Trapattoni, of course, is revered in his native Italy for his longevity and success having won league titles in four different countries 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 a 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 today 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 once again played full parts with fears over their fitness receding rapidly, and there was perhaps a hint as to the side which will start at the Puskas Stadium in a game at the end of the session with O'Shea, Sean St Ledger, Richard Dunne and Steven Ward lining up ahead of Given and behind Damien Duff, Keith Andrews, Glenn Whelan and Aiden McGeady, with Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle in attack.
That was the team which played largely throughout the qualifying campaign, and Trapattoni has indicated that those who start in Budapest are 90% likely to do so again against Croatia on June 10.
Tardelli said: "The players now are relaxed, but I think when we go to Hungary, it's possible to change some things in our mentality.
"It's a very important match for us because it's the start. Against Hungary, it will be a very, very important match because the players will start to focus very, very strongly for Poland."