Italian FA president Tavecchio banned over ‘banana eaters’ comment
Italy’s FA president Carlo Tavecchio has been barred from holding any position with Fifa for six months over an alleged racist comment he made in August.
Uefa has already imposed a similar sanction on the 71-year-old, and the Fifa decision is another embarrassment for the FA, whose own investigation had cleared Tavecchio of any wrongdoing.
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 presidency.
He was addressing the subject of the lack of opportunities for young Italian players at professional clubs, and 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’, 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 October 7, 2014. The case relates to racist comments made by Mr Tavecchio during his presidential election campaign.
“Fifa’s stance against any form of discrimination is unequivocal. Article three of the 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, of which he was president at the time. Despite the controversy, he swept to victory in the election against the former Milan midfielder Demetrio Albertini with the backing of the lower-tier clubs and amateur leagues – a result which raised more questions about Italian attitudes to racism in football.
The FA’s own disciplinary panel ruled in August that Tavecchio had no case to answer, saying: “The phases spoken during the general assembly on 25 July and in interviews to media outlets did not reveal any facts of disciplinary relevance against the new president Carlo Tavecchio.”
From the Guardian