Tavecchio 'treated like JFK assassin'
Carlo Tavecchio, who has maintained his candidacy to become president of the Italian Football Association (FIGC) after being involved in a racism row, has claimed: "John F. Kennedy's assassin didn't suffer what I've been through in these days."
Tavecchio has faced growing calls to withdraw his candidacy for the presidency after reportedly making a racist comment last 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."
Speaking to Italy's Radio 1, the 71-year-old -- who remains ahead of rival Demetrio Albertini in polls for the election, which takes place next Monday -- insisted he was not a racist.
"John F. Kennedy's assassin didn't suffer what I've been through in these days," he said.
"And to think that these days mark the 30th anniversary of my efforts in Africa, where I contributed to the construction of a hospital and where I sponsored three children.
"I am the person who was able to create in Italy a welcome system for all footballers, even those who got into the country as refugees, so they had no problems playing football.
"But these facts don't matter in this country -- you need to have the biggest lobby."
Juventus and Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini became the latest player to voice his condemnation of Tavecchio's remark, telling Sky Sport Italia: "As soon as I heard those words from Tavecchio, I was perturbed.
"There's nothing personal in my words, but I think there is only one person suitable for that role [of president] right now, and that's Demetrio Albertini."
His international colleague Daniele De Rossi told the same channel: "In America, France or England, you are forced to resign for things like that.
"I'm not judging the person because he has said he's not a racist and that's bound to be the truth, but what Tavecchio said is terrible."
Last week, Fiorentina said they would follow the examples 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.