Toni hits out over Lippi
By Nadia Carminati. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Serie A top goalscorer Luca Toni has hit out at Marcello Lippi's detractors and feels they will add an extra motivation for the Azzurri at the World Cup.
The Fiorentina man has spoken out after calls for the Italy coach's resignation because of his connections with former Juventus supremo Luciano Moggi.
The whole Juventus board resigned because of the referee-fixing scandal currently miring Italian football, but Toni remains focused on making his World Cup debut.
"I'm set to go into my first World Cup and you want me to leave the man who had the courage to bet on me?" Toni questioned in Gazzetta dello Sport.
"Lippi called me up when I was at Palermo and I wasn't today's Toni. Please stop shooting everyone down, Lippi deserves respect.
"Those who have done wrong will have to pay, but we should leave those decisions to the judges.
"My national team-mates and I spoke about the scandal and we are all behind Lippi."
The 28-year-old marksman also responded to comments from German legend Franz Beckenbauer and Fifa president Sepp Blatter that the scandal would undermine the national side at the World Cup.
"I've read these declarations. I hope we won't be struggling against everyone and everything," added Toni.
"Italian football has gone through difficult times before. Lippi has built a tight group and now we have another reason to win a historical result.
"An Italian victory in Germany would help football rejuvenate after the scandal, and inject some enthusiasm back into the game."
The proof remains to be seen on the pitch, as the Azzurri line up for their first game of Group E against Ghana on June 12.