Cannavaro: Italian game has to wake up

MILAN - Italy's entire football infrastructure needs an overhaul, captain Fabio Cannavaro said after the world champions arrived home on Tuesday from their Confederations Cup nightmare.

Elimination in the group stages after defeats to Egypt and Brazil followed a difficult few weeks for Serie A, with AC Milan's Kaka sold to Real Madrid and other top players threatening to leave the stuttering league.

"We need reconstruction and not just the national team. Let's start with the infrastructure, the stadiums, but also the youth teams," the 35-year-old Juventus defender told reporters.

Pundits have said Italy have too many ageing players and that coach Marcello Lippi is wrong to expect them to repeat their 2006 World Cup success in South Africa next year.

Domestically, Serie A clubs are losing out on revenue because, unlike English sides, they do not own their stadiums. Milan have also said favourable Spanish tax laws make it difficult to compete in the transfer market with La Liga.

No Italian side reached the Champions League quarter-finals last season and few big name players look likely to head to Serie A for next term.

Promoting young Italians such as Inter Milan's teenage fullback Davide Santon is the obvious answer but Cannavaro warned that the quality was lacking.

"Enough with this story about the oldies, if I really annoy people then my place is up for grabs but Lippi makes the decisions," added the defender, who equalled Paolo Maldini's all-time Italy caps record of 126 against Brazil.

"I don't see any phenomenons around in Italian football. There are no more Tottis, Baggios or Del Pieros. Today it is enough for a defender to be tall, cute, blonde and a dribbler and they think that makes them a good player."

AS Roma striker Francesco Totti has retired from international football while fellow World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero, 34, has been overlooked by Lippi for almost a year.