UEFA probes Italy football boss over racism
The Italian football federation's new president is being investigated by European Union of Football Associations (UEFA) over an alleged racist comment and could be banned for three months.
Carlo Tavecchio was elected last week despite causing a stir over a reference to bananas when discussing the presence of foreign players in Italy.
FIFA had urged the Italian federation to investigate, but 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.
Using a hypothetical name, Tavecchio had said: "In England they select players based on professionalism, whereas we say that 'Opti Poba' is here, he was eating bananas before and now he's starting for Lazio and that's OK."
UEFA said once the report is completed, its control, ethics and disciplinary body will decide how to proceed.
"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."
Tavecchio, a longstanding executive in Italian football, has already apologised for his comment and claimed he is not racist, but the players' and coaches' associations in Italy both expressed outrage.