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Former Italian football head denies harassment

Rome (AFP) – Former Italian football chief Carlo Tavecchio has denied claims of sexual harassment made by a former executive of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) that were published in Italian media on Tuesday.

“In relations to what has been reported in some press articles, I maintain that I behave in a correct manner and in order to protect my image and honour I have asked my lawyers to act in the appropriate forums,” Tavecchio told ANSA news agency.

The accusations against Tavecchio, who quit as head of the FIGC on Monday following Italy’s historic elimination from the World Cup at the hands of Sweden, come from a woman given the pseudonym “Mary” in an interview with Milan daily Corriere della Sera, who described an encounter with Tavecchio in his office at the FIGC’s headquarters in Rome.

“I went into his office to talk about football,” she said.

“He did not even give me time to ask ‘president, how are you?’ He looked at me and said: ‘You look well, I can see you have an active sex life.’ Then he said: ‘Come here and let me touch your breasts.’

“I was embarrassed. I tried to tell him to stop. But his only answer was to close the curtains of the office.”

The woman told the Corriere that she was harassed over a period of time and had left the FIGC.

She said she had decided to come forward when she realised that Tavecchio’s resignation did not signal that he intended to quit the sport.

“When I understood that Tavecchio’s intention was to take another position of responsiblity, perhaps with the amateurs, I had no doubt that it was time for me to speak up,” she said.

On Monday, 74-year old Tavecchio finally heeded calls to go following Italy’s World Cup playoff disaster a week earlier, the first time Italy have failed to qualify for the tournament in over half a century.

At a press conference to announce his decision to quit, he said he regretted that he was the only person at the federation to have resigned.

Before becoming head of the federation, Tavecchio ran Italy’s amateur football leagues.

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