BERNE, Aug 14 (Reuters) - The World Players’ Union FIFPro has questioned whether newly-elected Carlo Tavecchio is suitable to lead the Italian football federation (FIGC) after his allegedly racist comments about African players.
“The comments attributed to Mr Tavecchio raise major concerns about his suitability to lead Italian football, one of the most important nations in world football,” FIFPro director Tony Higgins said in a statement.
Dutch-based FIFPro also called on Tavecchio, who was elected as FIGC president with 63 percent of the vote on Monday, to attend a UEFA-organised anti-discrimination conference in Rome in September and make a public apology.
”Mr Tavecchio will also be expected to attend,“ said Higgins. ”His recent comments will be noted with great interest as the audience will largely come from people from all parts of Europe who are committed to fighting discrimination.
“Only an unqualified apology and a commitment to real action in Italy will satisfy the audience and the rest of world football.”
Tavecchio sparked the row during a prepared speech to the association of amateur leagues when he complained about a lack of opportunities for Italian players at professional clubs.
He referred to a fictitious player he named “Opti Poba” who, he said, “previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first team player with Lazio.”
The Italian Players’ Union (AIC) has already called for Tavecchio to be sanctioned for his comment. (Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris)