Defending World Cup champions Italy, which in South Africa failed to advance to the tournament's group stage for the first time in 36 years, received a (mostly) friendly welcome home Saturday morning, DPA reported.
Numerous fans gave coach Marcello Lippi and his players encouraging slaps on the back and asked for autographs upon the team's arrival at Rome's Fiumicino Airport.
Several, however, shouted "Shame on you!" while others surrounded Lippi outside the terminal and berated him before he left by car.
"We're deeply disappointed, we're devastated because we know that we wasted an opportunity," said Riccardo Montolivo, a midfielder in the Italian squad.
Napoli forward Fabio Quagliarella conceded that "the bitterness in the team is enormous, of course," adding that the Azzurri had apologized to the fans and promising: "We'll now build a stronger Italy."
Italy failed to win a game and finished bottom of Group F behind winners Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand.
Lippi, 62, then stepped down as coach, as he had announced he would before the start of the tournament. Lippi led his country to the 2006 World Cup title. dpa bk svb ob ms Author: Bernhard Krieger