Apr
20
2007
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AWARDS AND A PRESIDENTAL APOLOGY

AWARDS AND A PRESIDENTAL APOLOGY

Italy’s world champions received another prestigious honor at a reception in Rome’s Quirinal Palace on 8 January when president Giorgio Napolitano conferred upon them the title of Cavaliere Ufficiale (official knighthood). Coach Marcelli Lippi was also named as a Commendatore.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter was a guest at the reception, and he used the opportunity to “set the record straight” at a meeting with Italian players and officials by apologizing for not being on the Berlin Olympic Stadium pitch when Italy received FIFA World Cup Trophy on 9 July. Blatter explained that he had not wanted the crowd to whistle him, and for that reason alone, he had decided before the final that he would let Lennart Johansson (chairman of the FIFA Organizing Committee), Horst Kohler (German president) and Franz Backenbauer (Local Organizing Committee president) present the trophy. “That is why I greeted the teams in the tunnel before kick-off. History will show, though, that it was a mistake that FIFA President did not present the trophy to the Azzuri,” admitted Blatter to the Italian players and officials.
While in Rome, Blatter also presented the Yashin Award to Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. The FIFA Technical Study Group named Buffon as the best goalkeeper at the 2006 FIFA World Cup TM in Germany and he had been due to collect his award at the FIFA World Player Gala in Zurich in December. Sadly, an accident at Juventus training ground, which resulted in death of two young players, meant that Buffon was unable to attend.