ROME: Italian players have warned that a fragile campaign against racism in Calcio will be dead in the water if the federation does not take action against its new president.
Carlo Tavecchio was elected president of the FIGC early in the week despite the controversy aroused by his description of African players as “banana eaters.”
The AIC, the Italian players’ association, has demanded action against him.
AIC president Damiano Tommasi said: “It will be impossible to start any anti-racism campaign in Italy in the future if there are no sanctions for this President.
“Giorgio Chiellini [of Juventus] was the first player to react. Ten minutes after he had read the news, he called me and told me that we had to do something, because he knows what the significance will be if the Italian national team has to travel around the world with this man as their president.”
Tommasi indicated that the players were also concerned by a perception that Tavecchio represented the establishment and had little concern for the rights of players.
“He had already created a firm alliance of all the Italian leagues, professional and amateur,” said Tommasi. “They see us as only workers but at the board of the FIGC we must be treated as equals and not as employees.”
He said that the players ahd generally supported the defeated vice-president Demetrio Albertini, a former Milan and Italy midfielder.
Tommasi said: “Albertini would have been a choice for the future, he could change the current mentality. Tavecchio would not be just one but 10 steps back in time . . . For the players, it is very difficult to feel represented by Carlo Tavecchio.”
The AIC has four representatives on the new FIGC board: Umberto Calcagno, Simone Perrotta, Morgan De Sanctis and Tommasi. Next Monday the board will meet for the first time since the election and Tommasi said he intended to raise the question of with Tavecchio’s remarks.
He added: “In Italy, we still have people in the stadiums who think that there are no black Italians. I think this year we should not be surprised when we see banners inside the stadium displaying ‘Tavecchio one of us’.”
“If we do not sanction Tavecchio’s remarks, we cannot sanction supporters or players making racist remarks either. If you want to launch any campaign against racism in the future, you have to attack Tavecchio’s remarks with force.”