UEFA have started an investigation into the alleged racist comment made by new Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio.
Despite the racism allegations, the former FIGC vice-president was elected to the top seat on August 11, after he defeated Giancarlo Abete by a majority vote.
Tavecchio won 63.63 percent of the votes in the third round of balloting. While Albertini received 33.95 percent of the votes cast by the 274 delegates present. That was in addition to his first round and second round numbers of 60.2 percent and 63.18 percent respectively.
In late July, while speaking at the summer assembly of Italy’s amateur leagues, the 71-year-old gave his thoughts on the influx of foreign players into Italy. A subject that has been a flashpoint topic in the country since the national team was eliminated from the World Cup in Brazil.
Tavecchio suggested that Italy should replicate England’s stringent requirements for non-European Union players.
He referred to a hypothetical name and situation while stating:
“In England, they indentify the players coming in and, if they are professional, they are allowed to play.”
“Here instead, we get ‘Opti Poba’, who previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first-team player with Lazio. That’s how it is here. In England, you need to demonstrate what you have done on your CV and your pedigree.”
Tavecchio was later questioned by reporters about his comments and claimed he could not remember what he said in his speech.
“I can’t remember if I said the word ‘banana’ but I was referring to the CV and professionalism required by English football for players who come from Africa or other countries,” he said. “If anyone has interpreted my speech as offensive, I offer my apologies.”
His words were instantly reported around the world and universally treated with contempt. But the feeling was Tavecchio would remain the favorite over Demetrio Albertini, a former AC Milan player and Italy international, for the Italian football federation’s presidential seat.
Prior to the final vote, several leading Italian football clubs withdrew support for Tavecchio, who originally had the backing of all Serie A teams apart from Juventus and Roma.
A UEFA statement on Wednesday read: “Following a request of information made by UEFA on 28 July 2014, Mr Carlo Tavecchio, president of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), has today been personally informed by UEFA about the decision of its chief ethics and disciplinary inspector to open a disciplinary investigation on alleged racist comments made by him during his FIGC presidential election campaign.
“Once the report has been completed, the UEFA chief ethics and disciplinary inspector will submit its conclusions to the control, ethics and disciplinary body to render a decision about this matter.”
Following the confirmation this morning that his comments were now under investigation, Tavecchio responded by saying he was aware of the situation and the 71-year-old was looking forward to sharing his version of the events with the governing body.
“I am calm and I respect UEFA’s decision,” Tavecchio said. “It’s something that had to be done, hence, we had foreseen it. I am certain that I will also be able to explain in UEFA’s headquarters my mistake as well as my true intentions.”