ROME, October 8- UEFA on Tuesday banned Italian Football Federation boss Carlo Tavecchio from its next congress and ordered him to hold an anti-racism event in punishment for widely condemned remarks.
In a statement, European football’s governing body said that its ethics division had decided to impose the penalty after wrapping up a probe launched in August.
It said that it had taken into account Tavecchio’s decision to refrain from any UEFA-related activity pending a resolution of the issue.
At a public meeting in July, during the Italian federation’s election campaign, 71-year-old Tavecchio contrasted what he claimed was the wrongheaded player-recruitment approach of Italian clubs compared to the wisdom of their English counterparts.
“Here we get ‘Opti Poba’ who previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first-team player at Lazio,” he said.
The comments, which appeared to be aimed at France and Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, who is black, sparked controversy in Italy with many commentators condemning what they saw as an overtly racist outburst.
UEFA said that Tavecchio would be “ineligible for any position as a UEFA Official for a period of six months starting from the communication of this decision”.
In addition, he will not take part in UEFA’s next congress, scheduled for March 24, 2015.
“Mr. Tavecchio will organize a special event in Italy aimed at increasing awareness and compliance with the principles of UEFA’s Resolution entitled European Football United Against Racism,” it added.
The Italian football federation (FIGC) said that Tavecchio had decided to accept the six month suspension in order to avoid a prolonged dispute with UEFA.
“With regard to the proceedings initiated by UEFA against the President of the FIGC for expressions used on July 25 … Carlo Tavecchio, after explaining his position, has taken note of the proposal made by UEFA’s Disciplinary inspector decided to accept in order to avoid protracted litigation between UEFA and the FIGC,” read a FIGC statement.
“President Tavecchio has therefore accepted the proposal of UEFA’s Disciplinary Inspector, who asked that Tavecchio refrain from participating in the UEFA Congress scheduled for March 24, 2015 and to also refrain from participating in or be appointed to any UEFA committees for a period of six months.”
Tavecchio has acknowledged he should not have made the remark but insists he was only guilty of a clumsy turn of phrase.
He has alo insisted that he has a clear conscience over the episode and dismissed suggestions he was a racist.
“I adopted three African children, I also run a tomato-growing cooperative there and built two hospitals,” he said in August, adding: “I didn’t mean to hurt anybody.”