Carlo Tavecchio backed for Italian federation presidency despite race row

Rome: Carlo Tavecchio, under fire after referring to African players as "banana eaters", received a boost in his bid to win the Italian football federation (FIGC) presidency on Monday when the lower league clubs agreed to back him.

The Lega Pro, which represents 60 third and fourth division teams, said nearly all of its members would back the 71-year-old Tavecchio, despite an outburst which has shocked European football.

"The position of all the presidents regarded the candidate for the presidency of the FIGC has not changed and foresees the backing of Carlo Tavecchio," Lega Pro president Mario Macalli, 77, told Italian media during their general assembly in Florence.

"There was nothing that could make our clubs change their support."

"Maybe a few clubs think differently, I can`t rule that out, but during the assembly, none have come forward to say that the think differently."

Tavecchio faces former AC Milan and Italy midfielder Demetrio Albertini in the Aug. 11 election in Rome to choose replacement for Giancarlo Abete who quit following the World Cup. 

The Lega Pro has 60 votes out of the total 278, although under the complex rules they are only worth 17 percent of the total.

FIGC vice-president Tavecchio has received a wave of criticism for his comments, which came at the summer assembly of Italy`s amateur leagues (LND) who hold 34 percent of the vote.

He suggested that Italy should replicate England`s stringent requirements for non-EU players.

"In England, they identify the players coming in and, if they are professional, they are allowed to play," said 71-year-old Tavecchio.

"Here instead we get `Opti Poba`, who previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first team player with Lazio."

Tavecchio, who initially had the support of all Serie A clubs except Juventus and AS Roma, has seen his backing drop since the incident, although many clubs, including AC Milan, still back him. 

FIFA have asked the FIGC for an investigation. 

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