KEIR RADNEDGE in MONACO: Italy’s football disciplinary boss has declared Carlo Tavecchio not guilty of accusations of making racist comments; this is convenient since Tavecchio just happens to be his boss as newly-elected president of the Italian federation writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The FIGC prosecutor, Stefano Palazzi, presented his verdict in the wake of the controversy aroused when Tavecchio, in his election campaign, referred to African footballers as “banana eaters.”

Palazzi’s ruling threw the issue back to FIFA and UEFA.

This has presented the European federation with an especially delicate timing issue since it will stage, in Rome on September 10 and 11, a pan-European conference on anti-discrimination. Tavecchio, as president of the host Italian federation, would be expected to deliver a introductory welcome address.

Tavecchio, who made his comments while discussing the negative effect of foreign players on the Italian national team, apologised later for his comments. By then, however, world federation FIFA and UEFA had both demanded explanations.

Over the past 18 months both governing bodies have stepped up their campaigns against racist and discriminatory behaviour by officials, players and fans.

Palazzi, having reviewed the evidence, ruled that “phrases uttered by the president of the National Amateur League during a meeting of July 25 and in other interviews to the press” did not warrant disciplinary action.

Article 11 paragraph 1 of the Italian Code of Sports Justice “constitutes discriminatory conduct, punishable as a disciplinary offence, as any conduct that, directly or indirectly, denigrate or causes offence on the grounds of race, colour, religion, language, gender or nationality, (territorial or ethnic) as prohibited by law or may be perceived as glorifying discriminatory conduct.”

However Palazzi determined that Tavecchio’s comment was a merely a slip of the tongue not a breach of the rules because he was not referring to a specific footballer.