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The head of Calcio has hinted at the reason behind Cassano's Italy exclusion, using his quick chat with the media to hit out at France...

President of the Italian FA (FIGC) Giancarlo Abete believes the key to success is to create a group of winning players, rather than a cocktail of individual virtuosos.

The chief is with the Azzurri in L'Aquila as they visit the area that was hit by an earthquake back in April. The media are still tormenting the squad with the Antonio Cassano question, and Abete feels his exclusion is because Lippi prefers a cohesive group of players.

"Cassano's value has never been put into question by the Italian FA, but what counts is the expression of a team," Abete told the press.

"We have always based the national team upon the value of the whole group."

Abete has also hit out at the voices who have shot down Italian football. There was no Italy-born player in the Ballon d'Or list, which is pieced together by France Football magazine. The chief was eager to take a swipe at Italy's western neighbours, reminding them that their World Cup hopes are still far from certain.

"People have started to snigger after seeing the Ballon d'Or shortlist with no Italian player. France has four players in that list, but they are yet to qualify for South Africa, whereas we are already there," concluded Abete.

Salvatore Landolina, Goal.com

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