ROME: UEFA president Michel Platini has pledged an end to “the old white, machismo culture within European football” at the Respect Doversity conference in Rome wrItes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The two-day conference, organised by the European federation, was being attended by more than 200 representatives of UEFA member associations, leagues, clubs, political organizations and government, NGOs and minority groups.

Platini, in a keynote opening speech, added: “This is the fourth conference of its kind in 11 years. UEFA and myself are not able to feel proud about this because, to be honest, it is the admission of failure.

“Racism remains a feature of both our society and football but at least we can say we are the first organisation to have put this issue on the agenda in this way.”

The conference is being hosted by the Italian football federation whose newly-elected president, Carlo Tavecchio, sparked controversy with his recent description of African footballers as “banana eaters.”

UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Tavecchio who is a member of its youth and amateur football committee.

Platini, asked about Tavecchio, said: “He said things which caused astonishment and disapproval and UEFA decided to open an investigation so I should not comment further.”