Italian FA drops case against its president over racist comments

Reuters| Last Updated: Aug 26, 2014, 00:33 AM IST

Rome: The Italian football federation`s (FIGC) prosecutor panel has ruled that its new president Carlo Tavecchio has no case to answer over allegedly racist comments he made during the recent election campaign.

Tavecchio caused an outcry when he made a comment about a fictitious African player he named Opti Poba "eating bananas" during the campaign in which he beat former Italy and AC Milan midfielder Demetrio Albertini for the FIGC presidency.

"The federal prosecutor, having examined media reports, exhibits, video football and documentation received from the FIGC, from FIFA and UEFA, has decided to close the case," said the FIGC in a statement.

"The phases spoken by (Tavecchio) during the general assembly (of the Amateur Leagues` Association) on July 25 and in interviews to media outlets did not reveal any facts of disciplinary relevance against the new FIGC president Carlo Tavecchio.”

World soccer’s governing body FIFA had called on the FIGC to carry out an investigation.

"The FIGC and the football family at large deserve exemplary leadership capable of directing the industry in a transparent way for a dignified, diverse and inclusive society," said Jeffrey Webb, head of FIFA’s task force on racism at the time.

Tavecchio, however, remains under investigation for his comments by European soccer`s governing body UEFA who announced its own probe last week.

Tavecchio sits on UEFA’s youth and amateur football committee.

Coincidentally, Rome will host an anti-discrimination conference organised by UEFA and the FARE anti-discrimination group in September.

The World Players` Union FIFPro has already questioned Tavecchio`s suitability to lead Italian football and called on him to attend the conference and issue an unreserved apology.

Italy has struggled to control racism in the last few seasons and AC Milan`s players walked off the pitch during a friendly match in 2013 after abuse from fans on the terraces.