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Vieira dismay at Italy federation 'race row' appointment

12 August 2014, 23:01

Rome - Former France midfielder Patrick Vieira has said he "cannot believe" Italy have elected Carlo Tavecchio as president of their football federation after the 71-year-old was caught up in a racism row.

Tavecchio, who during the run-up to the election made a comment about a fictitious African player, Opti Poba, "eating bananas", won 63.63 percent of the vote on Monday against former Italy and AC Milan midfielder Demetrio Albertini.

"I'm finding it really hard to believe that Carlo Tavecchio has been elected as president of the Italian FA after the comments that he made," Vieira, who played for Juventus and Inter Milan, wrote on Twitter.

"For me, that shows how far away the Italian football authorities are from dealing with discrimination - 63.63 percent of those that voted are admitting that they aren't fighting against racism, or that they don't want to fight these problems.

"I played in Italy for years so I know the issues, I saw the issues," added Vieira, who is now director of elite development for Manchester City.

"If he was an English man making this kind of comment, politically, he would be completely out.

"This decision was made in football, but I think it is bigger than football. It should make the whole country of Italy look at the message they want to send about what they think about racism.

"I can't believe he will represent the Italian football authorities. What a shame."


Tavecchio replaced Giancarlo Abete, who quit, along with national team coach Cesare Prandelli, after Italy's group-stage exit at this year's World Cup in Brazil.

He faces a number of challenges, including a general Serie A decline, falling attendances, financial problems, match-fixing, a failure to find new talent and racism itself.

Tavecchio won the backing of the third and fourth division clubs, the amateur leagues and some Serie A and B clubs, while other Serie A clubs, including Juve and AS Roma, voted for Albertini, who also had the support of the players, coaches and referees.

Tavecchio said he expected to name a new Italy coach by next Monday, with former Juventus coach Antonio Conte leading the race, according to Italian media.

"I've been in touch with Conte and three or four others," Tavecchio told Italian media.

"The decision on a new coach will happen by Monday. I am optimistic for the federation and for Italy."

Tavecchio sparked the row during a prepared speech he made to the association of amateur leagues as he complained about a lack of opportunities for Italian players at professional clubs.

He referred to the fictitious "Opti Poba" who, he said, "previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first team player with Lazio".

- Reuters


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