By 90Min
November 24, 2017

Italy's elimination from World Cup qualifying earlier this month made headlines all over the planet as it meant the four-time former champions will not be at the tournament for the first time since 1958.

Sweden earned a hard fought 1-0 aggregate win in a two-legged playoff, bringing down an early curtain to the international careers of Daniel de Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Gianluigi Buffon and denying the veteran quartet a potentially magical summer farewell.

Marco Luzzani/GettyImages

But media and fan hype exploded this week when sensational reports claimed and wildly speculated that the Azzurri might actually be going to Russia after all. 

For the record, they definitely won't be, but that hasn't stopped people from dreaming it could be true.

The situation arose from questions over Peru's place in the tournament. Having finished fifth in South American qualifying, they successfully navigated a two-legged intercontinental playoff against Oceania winners New Zealand to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1982.

Daniel Apuy/GettyImages

However, it has been alleged that Peru could yet be kicked out by FIFA as a result of a report from Peruvian outlet Libero which states that Congresswoman Paloma Noceda has proposed that the country's national football federation (FPF) be brought under government control.

Such government interference is strictly against FIFA rules and if the proposal is voted into law there would be little alternative but to suspend Peru's membership, meaning they would no longer be allowed to compete in any FIFA sanctioned international football, despite qualifying.

Daniel Apuy/GettyImages

FIFA took similar action just earlier this year by suspending Mali from international competition when the west African country's sports minister, a government official, sacked the executive committee of the national football federation, direct interference.

The Peruvian government would have to be incredibly short sighted and, for want of a better word, stupid, to vote Congresswoman Noceda's proposal into law if that is the cost. But what Italy are hoping for is that there will be an extra place in Russia suddenly up for grabs.

Pouncing on the news emerging from Peru, Italian publication Tuttosport have so far shouted the loudest, claiming that the Italy team should be given a reprieve. As four-time former winners, the Azzurri are the most high profile side not currently going to Russia, while they also hold the highest place on the latest FIFA World Rankings of all non qualifiers.

Claudio Villa/GettyImages

Should Peru slit their own throats (surely they won't?!) the fairest outcome would be for New Zealand to take the place as they were the ones beaten by Peru to reach the World Cup. Failing that, an extra playoff between the Kiwis and the next best South American nation, Chile, in a repeat of the intercontinental playoff would even be fairer than simply 'give it to Italy'.

It hasn't stopped various overzealous English media outlets (including The Sun and Daily Mirror) running away with Tuttosport's shouting and all but announcing Italy's heroic return.

Claudio Villa/GettyImages

In reality, this would be Italy's third chance after finishing second in their initial qualifying group and subsequently blowing their second chance against Sweden. They have no real right to the place, again, not that it will be even up for grabs because Peru won't be that thick(?!).

Sorry, Italy, it was worth a try, but not this time.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)