ROME (AP) — UEFA President Michel Platini has promised a ruling from the organization’s disciplinary body over an alleged racist comment by the Italian football federation’s new leader.
Carlo Tavecchio, a long-standing executive in Italian football, was elected president last month despite causing a stir over a reference to bananas when discussing the presence of foreign players in Italy.
While the Italian federation’s internal prosecutor dropped his inquiry over the comment, UEFA is expected to issue a ruling in the coming days.
“I do not want to revisit what (Tavecchio) said,” Platini said in his opening remarks Wednesday at UEFA’s Respect and Diversity conference. “But UEFA has decided to open an inquiry and the disciplinary body will hand down a decision based on its (anti-racism) rules.”
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.”
Tavecchio, who also has a UEFA role as a member of its youth and amateur football committee, apologized for his comment and insisted he is not racist. He has decided not to participate in any UEFA activities until the ruling and was not at the conference — even though his federation was the host.
UEFA could suspend Tavecchio for one to three months and fine him if he is found guilty.
In other issues, Platini expressed displeasure that discriminatory issues inside stadiums were not addressed at this year’s World Cup in Brazil
FIFA’s task force against racism provided evidence of fans in Brazil chanting gay slurs, wearing black face make-up and carrying banners with far-right symbols — none of which resulted in sanctions.
“UEFA has a monitoring system for all high-risk matches and unlike at the World Cup in Brazil, zero tolerance is really put into practice,” Platini said. “Gone are the days of football in Europe for middle-age white chauvinists.”