Italian Football Federation president Carlo Tavecchio has been handed a six-month ban by Uefa over alleged racist comments made by him during his election campaign.
The 71-year-old drew heavy criticism in July by making an allegedly racist comment about “eating bananas” during an address to a summer assembly of Italy’s amateur leagues.
Both Uefa and Fifa launched investigations into the matter and the European governing body has now confirmed that Tavecchio will be “ineligible for any position as a Uefa official for a period of six months”.
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.”
Despite the controversy, he beat former AC Milan player Demetrio Albertini in the race to succeed Giancarlo Abete.
He subsequently apologised and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) decided not to take any action but Uefa’s Ethics and Disciplinary Body (CEDB) conducted its own investigations.
Upon learning of Uefa’s investigation, Tavecchio 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.”
And the CEDB has now made its judgement with Tavecchio banned for six months, prevented from attending the Uefa Congress in March and being obliged to organise a racism awareness event.
“Following a request for information made by UEFA to the FIGC, on 20 August 2014 the UEFA Chief Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector opened a disciplinary investigation regarding alleged racist comments made by Mr. Tavecchio during his FIGC presidential election campaign,” read a statement from UEFA.
“At the request of the UEFA Chief Ethics and Disciplinary Inspectordisciplinary proceedings were opened against Mr. Tavecchio on 29 September 2014.
“After having analyzed the case file and the statements submitted by both parties, the CEDB has decided, based on Articles 6, 7, 14(1) and 34(5) DR [in the spirit of UEFA’s Resolution entitled European Football united against racism] and taking into account Mr. Tavecchio’s decision to immediately refrain from participating in any UEFA’s activity pending the resolution of the matter, as follows:
“Mr. Tavecchio will be ineligible for any position as a UEFA Official for a period of six months starting from the communication of this decision;
“Mr. Tavecchio will not participate in the next UEFA Congress scheduled for 24 March 2015;
“Mr. Tavecchio will organise a special event in Italy aimed at increasing awareness and compliance with the principles of UEFA’s Resolution entitled European Football united against racism.” [Source: UEFA]
Well, when there is a will, there is a way. Tavecchio’s bigotry has no place in football – period.