Italy’s hopes of winning a second UEFA European Football Championship suffered a major setback on Monday, when first-choice left back Domenico Criscito was left out of the Azzurri’s Euro 2012 squad after Italian police searched his room at Coverciano in connection with the Scommessopoli scandal.
Criscito was one of seven players cut by Azzurri boss Cesare Prandelli ahead of Italy’s international friendly with against Luxembourg, with Emiliano Viviano, Davide Astori, Salvatore Bocchetti, Luca Cigarini, Ezequiel Schelotto and Marco Verratti also getting the ax.
However, Criscito was the only player omitted as a result of the Scommessopoli scandal.
With that said, the drama surrounding Italy’s Euro 2012 campaign does not end there.
Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci, who is also being investigated for his connections with the Scommessopoli scandal, has been included in Italy’s Euro 2012 by manager Cesare Prandelli.
Bonucci was featured in 33 games for Serie A champions Juve, who went the entire league campaign without defeat in 2011-12.
The 25-year-old defender started two matches for Italy in European Championship Qualifying, with the Azzurri earning four points from those fixtures.
The whole Scommessopoli ‘scandal’ has really devastated Italian football, according to Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni.
“It is a devastating story,” Trapattoni told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “If the magistrates are doing something, it is because there is some truth in this.
“I, who have travelled abroad for some time, must say that we give an ugly image of our football.
“As an Italian, the first feeling is that we are mocked abroad, we are always linked to illicit dealings and are considered mafia members.
“This only damages us because I can claim to have paid the price for an attitude that affects everyone.”
Furthermore, the timing of the investigation into the scandal couldn’t have come at a worse time, with Italy preparing for the 2012 European Championships.
To make matters worse, Juve boss Antonio Conte is also currently under investigation.
Several reports have alleged that Conte was in the know regarding a plot to fix the outcome of Siena’s Serie B clash fixture versus Novara on 30 April 2011.
Conte was Siena’s manager at the time.
These countless distractions will surely hurt Italy’s quest for European glory.
The Italians were hoping avenge their poor performance in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa this summer, but that seems unlikely at the moment.
Enough drama, here is Italy’s 25-man Euro 2012 squad.
Gianluigi Buffon, Morgan De Sanctis, Salvatore Sirigu
Ignazio Abate, Federico Balzaretti, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Christian Maggio, Angelo Ogbonna, Andrea Ranocchia
Daniele De Rossi, Alessandro Diamanti, Emanuele Giaccherini, Claudio Marchisio, Riccardo Montolivo, Thiago Motta, Antonio Nocerino, Andrea Pirlo
Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini, Antonio Cassano, Mattia Destro, Antonio Di Natale, Sebastian Giovinco