Mario Balotelli’s agent has hit out at the state of Italian football and says it is ‘shameful to only blame’ his client.
The Milan striker has come under scrutiny as a result of Italy’s group stage exit from the 2014 World Cup, for his half-time substitution in their closing match with Uruguay, after an alleged falling out with Cesare Prandelli.
For the 23-year-old’s representative, singling out the striker is not fair.
“It is shameful to blame only Balotelli. Here there is a lack of balance, a reflection of a country where football is dead,” Mino Raiola has explained to the Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Some really thought Italy would win the World Cup? I have not been amazed by this failure. In Europe our clubs do not win anymore, how could the national team perform a miracle?
“I do not judge people, I do not know Prandelli, but his idea was a losing tactic. How can you think to win with only one striker on the pitch? Even Costa Rica fielded three of them.
“How is Mario? He is sad, even depressed. Only Galliani has protected him and the FIGC have been in absolute silence. He has not accused anyone, and if anything he is depressed because he knows that he was not able to express all of his talent. But I would add: who would have saved Italy?
“Who? Pirlo because he makes great plays, but the rest…I have read the words of De Rossi, I will not comment on them, and I understand the disappointment, but when Uruguay scored in defence I did not see Mario, is it also his fault that they conceded that goal?”
Gigi Buffon spoke of a reliance on the more senior players.
“When I see distance between the senatori and the youngsters I can deduce that there was not a unified group. As just one example - Pogba is also young with France but I do not hear such talk. Perhaps this is what was missing in us.
“Mario spoke of racism? He told me that he responded to a specific allegation, I believe he spoke with dignity. Recall that he has chosen to be Italian. He did not decide by choice, like those who are criticising him. He is proud of his choice.
“His attitude though? It is the usual misunderstanding. I say that he is subjected to incredible pressures, Italy place it all on him. He reacts in his own way, but I assure you it is not easy for him.”
Raiola considered where he felt Italy went wrong this summer.
“Just look at the other teams to understand. We no longer have an identity. In ’82 we won on the counter-attack. Then Lippi led us to dream in 2006. This time we reduced the focus to only one attacker.
“But he is the most talented attacker? Argentina have the best player in the world. Yet they have not won the World Cup and if they don’t they do not pressure Messi. Instead, we think only of him, ignoring the rest.
“Our country has a cancer. We are adrift also in football and no-one takes responsibility.
“In Coverciano the focus has not changed for decades. The youth Coaches are asked only to win, and in developing youngsters? Germany has chosen a path and the results can be seen. Here they think only of their desk jobs.
“But Abete resigned? A system does not change. Abete had already failed after the defeat at the European Championships of 2008. We had a missed opportunity to renew ourselves and focus on modern stadiums and adequate facilities.
“In six years he never proposed a project to regenerate and the problem is not the foreigners. The product today is poor. Don't wonder when we lose the best players and the stars do not arrive as they once did.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £11,000 to be won monthly!