UEFA launches probe into comments of FIGC chief Tavecchio

New Italian Football Federation president Carlo Tavecchio (R) with new Italy coach Antonio Conte. 

ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

UEFA has opened disciplinary investigations against Italian football federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio over alleged racist comments made by him during his election campaign.

The 71-year-old last week beat former AC Milan player Demetrio Albertini after three rounds of voting in Rome, despite having drawn heavy criticism last month by making an allegedly racist comment about ”eating bananas” during an address to a summer assembly of Italy’s amateur leagues.

A UEFA statement on Wednesday 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."

The campaign against Tavecchio’s candidacy began when he made an allegedly racist comment when using a fictional example to try to make a point about the number of foreign players in the Italian leagues.

Quoted by newspaper La Repubblica, Tavecchio said: ”England identifies the players coming in and, if they are professional, they are allowed to play.

”Here, on the other hand, let’s say there’s (fictional player) Opti Poba, who has come here, who previously was eating bananas and now is a first-team player for Lazio.

”In England he has to demonstrate his CV and his pedigree.”

He subsequently apologised but FIFA has since asked the FIGC to conduct an investigation into the comments and to report its findings back to the world governing body.

Serie A clubs including Fiorentina and Sampdoria withdrew their backing in the weeks leading up to the elective assembly, but Tavecchio was nevertheless confirmed 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.

Tavecchio accepted the news there will be an investigation and is keen to give his version of events to UEFA.

He said in a statement: "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."