Milan, Italy: After the initial shock and disbelief, heartbroken Italians on Tuesday demanded answers as to why the one-time stars of the global game had missed the World Cup finals for the first time in 60 years.
The Italian press called it an "apocalypse" for the four-time world champions, who failed to qualify for the 1958 World Cup but have played every other edition apart from the inaugural tournament in 1930.
Tearful captain Gianluigi Buffon quit international football and coach Gian Piero Ventura said he would consider his future after the Azzurri drew 0-0 with Sweden on Monday to lose 1-0 on aggregate.
There was disbelief among the 75,000 fans in Milan's San Siro Stadium with 14.8 million stunned Italians watching their national fall from grace on television.
The Italian football federation called crisis talks for Wednesday with 69-year-old Ventura expected to be sacked with federation chief Carlo Tavecchio also under pressure to resign.
“As you know, it's up to the boss to take responsibility. If I were him (Tavecchio), I'd resign," said Giovanni Malago, the president of Italian Olympic Committee CONI.
For many, the defeat reflects a profound malaise in Italian football with the 2006 World Cup triumph having been followed by early exits from the last two World Cups.