Italian Football Federation, FIGC President, Carlo Tavecchio has been barred from holding any position with world governing body, FIFA for six months over an alleged racist comment he made in August.
European soccer’s governing body UEFA has already imposed a similar sanction on the 71-year-old. Tavecchio caused an outcry when he made a comment about a fictitious African player he named Opti Poba “eating bananas” during the campaign for the FIGC Presidency.
He was addressing the vexed subject of the lack of opportunities for young Italian players at professional clubs. “In England, they identify the players coming in and, if they are professional, they are allowed to play,”Tavecchio said.
“Here instead we get ‘Opti Poba’, who previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first-team player with Lazio.” FIFA said that Tavecchio would be “ineligible for any position as a FIFA official for a period of six months starting from 7 October, 2014. “The case relates to racist comments made by Tavecchio during his FIGC presidential election campaign,” the statement said. “FIFA’s stance against any form of discrimination is unequivocal.
“Article three of FIFA statutes expressly prohibits discrimination of any kind against persons on account of their race, skin colour, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, language, religion, political opinion, wealth, birth or sexual orientation.” As head of one of the world’s leading federations, Tavecchio would normally be considered a leading choice to sit on FIFA committees.
Tavecchio made the remarks in a speech to a meeting of the assembly of Italy’s amateur leagues, LND of which he was president at the time.