italy news

Zoff lays into Italy coach Lippi over fan criticism

October 15, 2009

Former Italy coach Dino Zoff has criticised national team boss Marcelo Lippi for his negative reaction to fans in Parma following the Azzurri's narrow victory over Cyprus.

Some of those in attendance booed Lippi and also chanted the name of Antonio Cassano, the Sampdoria striker whom Lippi has not selected in any of his squads since reclaiming the reins after Euro 2008.

Lippi called the fans ''shameful'' after the game, and Zoff has lashed out at the veteran coach.

''He cannot allow himself to be that arrogant,'' said Zoff to Radio TV. ''The fans have the right to invoke whatever they want. He can distance himself from that, but always with a certain education.''

The fans grew impatient with Italy losing 2-0 in their last World Cup qualifier before Alberto Gilardino turned the game around, scoring a hat-trick in the last 13 minutes.

The veteran coach is well known for maintaining an even keel but for the second time this month Lippi lost his cool. Last week, Lippi was asked in a press conference about Cassano's continued absence from the squad.

Local media and Azzurri fans have called for Lippi to get the Sampdoria star back in the national side.

''I'm fed up with this question,'' said Lippi, who offered no further comment on the subject.

Cassano does have a reputation for causing trouble on and off the pitch but his supporters say he has matured in his two seasons at Samp. Zoff believes Lippi's squad selections should not be questioned.

''I wouldn't dare to question which players he calls up,'' he said. ''The national team coach has to monitor the league, then he has his own ideas and he makes the calls he deems right. The important thing is that he follows his ideas with class.''