NYON: Italian federation president Carlo Tavecchio has been suspended from all European football roles by UEFA over his controversial ‘banana eaters’ comment writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The suspension includes the appearance he would have been expected to make at the European governing body’s congress in Vienna next March.

UEFA opened an inquiry in August into the comment made by the 71-year-old during his campaign for the presidency of fhte FIGC in succession to Giancarlo Abete who quot after Italy’s first round World Cup exit.

Tavecchio uttered his derisive description of African footballers in a discourse about the negative effect of player imports on the Azzurri. The comments very nearly derailed his power bid. In the end Tavecchio defeated Demetrio Albertini, a fellow FIGC vice-president, only in the third round of voting.

Racist behaviour

Italian football had a poor enough record on racist behaviour even before Tavecchio’s comments which were all the more remarkable coming from a man who was a member of UEFA’s own youth and amateur football committee. Critics included Italian politicians as well as the national and international players’ unions.

The issue was all the more embarrassing for UEFA since they came shortly before the European federation’s pan-European conference on anti-discrimination in Rome last month. Tavecchio, hardly surprisingly, was not among the 200-plus representatives of NGO’s, ethnic minorities, experts, activists, FA’s, leagues and clubs.

He was cleared of any offence by the Italian federation’s own disciplinary commission.

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