UEFA confirms investigation into new president of Italian football
Last Updated: 20/08/14 1:53pm
UEFA has confirmed that it is investigating the new president of the Italian football federation (FICG), Carlo Tavecchio, over allegations of racism.
avecchio, who was elected FIGC president last week, made a speech in the run-up to the election in which he referred to a fictitious player he called Opti Poba who, he said, "previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first team player with Lazio."
UEFA says the 71-year-old has been informed by their chief ethics and disciplinary inspector of the decision to open a "disciplinary investigation on alleged racist comments."
Once the report is completed, the control, ethics and disciplinary body will decide how to proceed.
Tavecchio has already apologised for his comment - which appeared to be aimed at Juventus' Paul Pogba - and claimed he is not racist. But the players' and coaches' associations in Italy both expressed outrage.
Tavecchio last week beat former AC Milan player Demetrio Albertini after three rounds of voting in Rome.
Some Serie A clubs including Fiorentina and Sampdoria withdrew their backing in the weeks leading up to the elective assembly.
But Tavecchio was still elected as Giancarlo Abete's successor last Monday. He polled 63.33 per cent of the third-round votes after the first two rounds proved inconclusive.
The delegation was comprised of 278 representatives from Serie A, Serie B, the Lega Pro, the amateur league, the players' association, the coaches' association and the referees' association.
The Lega Pro, which represents 60 third and fourth division teams, had vowed the week before the voting that nearly all of its members would back Tavecchio, who had been vice-president of the FIGC since 2009.
UEFA's statement 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."
Tavecchio responded to news of the probe by saying: "I am calm and I respect UEFA's decision.
"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."