As European champions, Italy should have been granted automatic qualification to the 2022 World Cup, as stated by manager Roberto Mancini.
Best bets Italy came in second place in their qualifying group, behind Switzerland, and then were stunned by North Macedonia in the semi-finals of the play-offs in March.
Italy have now failed to qualify for two consecutive World Cups, missing out on Russia 2018 despite winning Euro 2020 in between qualifying failures.
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Despite this, Mancini is adamant that the Azzurri shouldn’t have had to go through qualifying for Qatar after winning their continent last year.
In an interview with Corriere Della Sera, he emphasised that it wasn’t just the European champions who should be honoured, but the winners on every continent. He said “I am saying it for football’s good.
“Likewise, who won the title in the previous edition should always be involved. It used to be like this in the past. Football doesn’t just make smart moves by itself.
Italy overcame its World Cup disappointment by qualifying for the 2023 Nations League Finals, where it will compete alongside Croatia, Spain, and the Netherlands.
Mancini’s long-term objective is to compete at the upcoming World Cup in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and at the ensuing Euro 2024 tournament.
Mancini, who is under contract with the Azzurri until after that tournament, said, “I stayed because I want to take revenge [by reaching the World Cup].”
“But right now we can’t look so far ahead. The 2026 World Cup is far away. Now we must focus on the Nations League Finals and the qualification for the Euros.
“I wanted to stay to chase the World Cup, but nothing is definitive in football and things can still change. We want to go to the next World Cup and hopefully win it.”
This past Sunday, Italy played Austria in a friendly and lost 2-0; in four months, Italy will host England in their first Euro 2024 qualifier.
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