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 By Ben Gladwell

Vieira: Tavecchio election a shame

Carlo Tavecchio has been elected as president of Italy's Football Association, despite recent accusations of racism.

Patrick Vieira has criticised the electing of Carlos Tavecchio as the new president of the Italian football federation (FIGC) despite the 71-year-old being accused of making racist remarks.

Tavecchio, 71, was elected after the third round of voting in Rome, beating his only rival Demetrio Albertini in spite of a comment during his election campaign in which he made a racial remark which drew calls for him to pull out of the running.

His victory in Monday's vote was relatively comprehensive -- he took two thirds of the final vote -- but his election has divided opinion. Public opinion would have seen Albertini, 42, as the landslide winner, but there was no space for the public's voice to be heard within the internal elections.

Former Juventus and Inter Milan midfielder Vieira, now in charge of Manchester City's elite development squad, linked via his Twitter account to a post expressing his disapproval at the result.

"I'm finding it really hard to believe that Carlo Tavecchio has been elected as president of the Italian FA after the comments that he made.

"For me, that shows how far away the Italian football authorities are from dealing with discrimination," he wrote. "63.63 percent of those that voted are admitting that they aren't fighting against racism, or that they don't want to fight these problems. I played in Italy for years so I know the issues, I saw the issues.

"If he was an English man making this kind of comment, politically, he would be completely out.

"This decision was made in football, but I think it is bigger than football. It should make the whole country of Italy look at the message they want to send about what they think about racism.

"I can't believe he will represent the Italian Football Authorities. What a shame."

Former Arsenal captain Vieira spent five years in Italy before returning to England with Man City in 2010.

Tavecchio admitted after winning the vote on Monday that he has "never been comfortable with words."

La Gazzetta dello Sport made a play on words -- "Stravecchio" -- on its front page on Tuesday, a word which translates as "extremely old," followed by an editorial which says an "opportunity has been missed to break with the past."

Indeed, Tavecchio has been president of the Italian Amateur Football Association (LND) for the past 15 years, even though his name may not be so widely known outside of Italy. A UEFA delegate, Tavecchio admits he avoids the limelight.

"I've never been comfortable with words," he said after being elected, and refusing to take part in a news conference. "Without losing any more time, I'd like to invite everybody to abandon all divisions and get to work. We can only make reforms together."

Tavecchio got straight to work by attempting to wipe the slate clean after his controversial comment about migrant footballers and awkward remark about women in the sport, whom he branded "handicapped" in sport, adding on Rai Tre television that he had "discovered" that "they are actually quite similar to men," by approaching Italian long-jumper Fiona May to work as an ambassador.

UK-born May assumed Italian citizenship almost two decades ago, becoming one of Italy's most successful and popular athletes of all time.

"It all happened in the space of a few hours," May told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I was contacted during the day and offered a role which is yet to be specified. I'm honoured by the fact that such a big federation thought of me.

"Of course before accepting I've got to meet the decision makers, evaluate the project and see if I can deliver concrete results. If I am able to do anything useful, then I'd be delighted. I don't know [Tavecchio], I've not spoken with him and I'm not commenting his remarks about foreign players other than to say that anybody can have a slip of the tongue."

That slip has not cost Tavecchio a place as the most powerful man in Italian football, however, with a lot of work to do to lift the nation after its World Cup disappointment.


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