Inter Milan defender Andrea Ranocchia has added his voice to the growing condemnation of the alleged racist comment made by Italian FA (FIGC) presidential candidate Carlo Tavecchio.
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 and denied he was racist.
"It's incredible that, in 2014, we still see acts of racism and discrimination," Ranocchia told Inter Channel.
"We must be the first ones to set a good example, because we're under the microscope. We're watched by the younger generations, so if we don't set a good example it's going to be hard to change things in this world and in this sport."
World football's governing body has called for an investigation into Tavecchio's remarks, sending a letter to the FIGC on Monday.
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.
Fiorentina 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.