FIFA has imposed a six-month ban on Carlo Tavecchio, the president of the Italian Football Association, for an alleged racist comment he made in August. The sanction from the governing body means the 71-year-old is barred from holding any position with FIFA for six months, backdated to October 7th.

As head of one of the world’s leading federations, Tavecchio would normally be considered a leading choice to sit on a FIFA committee.

The penalty from FIFA follows a similar decision by UEFA (handed down on October 7th) which also banned the Italian leader from working in an official capacity with European football’s governing body.

Tavecchio drew widespread criticism in July following reports that he made an alleged racist comment about “eating bananas” during an address to a summer assembly on Italy’s amateur leagues.

At the time, Tavecchio was addressing the subject of the lack of opportunities for young Italian players at professional clubs, and said: “In England, they identify 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.”

Despite the comments, Tavecchio swept the presidential election and defeated former AC Milan midfielder Demetrio Albertini.

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 AS Roma. But Tavecchio was able to achieve the presidential seat due to the backing of the lower-tier clubs and amateur leagues – a result which raised more questions about Italians attitudes to racism in football.

Today, a statement from the governing body of world football read: “FIFA’s stance against any form of discrimination is unequivocal. Article three of the FIFA statutes expressly prohibits discrimination of any kind against persons on account of their race, skin color, ethnic, national, political opinion, wealth, birth or sexual orientation.”

“The resolution on the fight against racism and discrimination advocates the need for strict punishments to send out a strong message that discrimination has no place in the game.”

“FIFA also works closely with its member associations around the world to educate and inspire a message of equality and respect.”

“The decision by the chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee was notified to Mr. Tavecchio today.”