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 By Ben Gladwell
Jul 28, 2014

Italy's Carlo Tavecchio in racism row

FIFA has written to the Italian FA (FIGC), calling on it to investigate an alleged racist remark made by presidential candidate Carlo Tavecchio.

- Agnelli: Italian football needs a new broom

Tavecchio faces growing calls to withdraw his candidacy for the presidency after reportedly making the comment at the weekend.

The current vice-president told the summer meeting of Italy's amateur leagues: "In England, they identify the players coming in and, if they are professional, they are allowed to play.

"Here instead we get 'Opti Poba' [a hypothetical player], who previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first-team player with Lazio. That's how it is here. In England, you need to demonstrate what you have on your CV."

The 71-year old issued an immediate apology for words he said had been intended to be interpreted in a different way, but denied he was racist.

"I accept all the criticism but not the accusations of racism," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"My life testifies that I am not racist, and I am ready to make new anti-discrimination policies. I am in favour of integration."

In a statement on its website, FIFA said: "Media reports concerning alleged racist comments by one of the presidential candidates for the Italian FA have alerted FIFA's task force against racism and discrimination and its chairman, Jeffrey Webb.

"As such, FIFA has written a letter to the Italian FA asking it to take the appropriate steps to investigate and decide on this matter and report to FIFA."

Tavecchio remains ahead of rival Demetrio Albertini in opinion polls, but reaction to his remark suggests many players and fans now see Albertini, 42, as the best candidate.

Sampdoria striker Stefano Okaka hit out at his remark. "It's unacceptable -- scandalous," he told ANSA.

"This public outcry should convince him to step down. It's sad to hear these kind of things in 2014. The problem is also among those people who let him be where he is.

"If the people who should be setting an example say these kinds of things, then in the end everybody follows in the same direction. I'm sorry we're still talking about these things in 2014, but enough is enough now."

Okaka's views were echoed by Fiorentina, who are to follow the example of Juventus and Roma by separating from the block of Serie A clubs set to vote in favour of Tavecchio.

"In keeping with our ethical and civil values, in light of his recent remarks our club no longer feels Mr Tavecchio's candidacy as president of the FIGC can be supported," Fiorentina executive president Mario Cognigni was reported as saying by Gazzetta dello Sport.

Tavecchio is currently president of the Italian Amateur Football Association (LND), and can expect to receive the organisation's 34 percent share of the overall vote in the presidential ballot.

He is also thought likely to gain a further 20 percent from Serie A clubs -- but fans have no voice in the vote, which takes place at a FIGC board meeting on Aug. 11.

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