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UEFA investigates Carlo Tavecchio

Carlo Tavecchio may be the new president of the Italian Football Federation but the racism row centered around comments he made refuses to subside.

New Italian FA (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio is being investigated by UEFA over an alleged racist comment and could be banned for three months.

Tavecchio, a long-standing executive in Italian soccer, was elected last week despite causing a stir over a reference to bananas when discussing the presence of foreign players in Italy.

Players' and coaches' associations in Italy both expressed outrage, and FIFA had urged the Italian federation to investigate. However, UEFA has intervened and opened a case that could result in Tavecchio being suspended for one to three months and fined if found guilty.

The 71-year-old Tavecchio has 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," UEFA said.

Tavecchio had said: "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 investigator's report is due to be submitted on Friday, and UEFA's control, ethics and disciplinary body will then decide how to proceed with the case.

Tavecchio, who also has a UEFA role as a member of its youth and amateur football committee, has already apologised for his comment and insisted he is not racist.

"I am calm and respectful of UEFA's decision," Tavecchio said in a statement on the federation's website. "It's a required procedure, so we already knew it was coming and I am certain that I can explain also in the UEFA headquarters both my mistake and my real intentions."

UEFA is due to stage an anti-discrimination conference next month in Rome, where Tavecchio would have been expected to speak as the host federation's top official.

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