They may have failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years but Italy may yet find themselves taking part in Russia, next summer.

The Azzurri were beaten 1-0 over two legs in a qualification play-off with Sweden during the most recent international break, signalling the end of the international careers of Gianluigi Buffon, Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli.

However, due to some recent developments in Peru, who qualified via their own play-off victory, over New Zealand, the Italians may be provided with an unexpected route back to Russia and be presented with an opportunity to draw level with Brazil on five World Cup victories.

Peruvian outlet Libero are reporting that Congresswoman Paloma Noceda wants the Institute of Sport to control the country's football association.

State interference in a governing body is something that is in conflict with FIFA's stance on governments involving themselves in the running of their national teams.

Should FIFA take exception to Noceda's proposed action, they could expel Peru from the World Cup and replace them with one of the teams who failed to qualify.

FIFA regulations state, "If any association withdraws or is excluded from the competition, the FIFA Organising Committee shall decide on the matter at its sole discretion and take whatever action is deemed necessary.

"The FIFA Organising Committee may in particular decide to replace the association in question with another association."

With current rankings not entering into the decision as to who would potentially replace Peru, Italian publication Tuttosport claim that, as the joint second most successful national team in the history of the World Cup, having lifted the Jules Rimet trophy four times, the Azzurri would hold the edge over the likes of the Netherlands and South American champions Chile, who both also failed to qualify for next summer's showpiece event in Russia.

This wouldn't be the first time a team have been entered into a tournament despite failing to qualify, as Denmark were famously called off the beach in 1992 to replace Yugoslavia in the European Championships after the outbreak of civil war in the country. The Danes would not only be handed a second chance, they also went onto win the entire tournament.

Could the same happen to Italy and could Gianluigi Buffon end up with the unlikeliest of fairytale endings to his career?

(H/T The Mirror)

Featured Image Credit: PA

Joe Baiamonte

Northerner. Assistant Editor of SPORTbible. Studied Journalism and Broadcasting in a portakabin on a car park of Salford University for three years. Believes football peaked with Serie A in the '90s and strong-arms pro wrestling references into as many articles as possible. Neymar once took 50 euros off me during a game of poker.

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