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‘Italian FA must probe racism’: Fifa

Fifa on Monday called for an investigation into alleged racist comments made by the front runner in the race for the top job in Italian football.

'Italian FA must probe racism': Fifa
Carlo Tavecchio has denied his comments amount to racism. Photo: Emanuele.corr/Wikimedia Commons

The racism row involves Italian FA vice-president Carlo Tavecchio, who last Friday provoked controversy when discussing Italy's overseas players.

"Media reports concerning alleged racist comments by one of the presidential candidates for the Italian FA have alerted Fifa's Task Force against racism and discrimination," world football's governing body announced.

"Fifa has written a letter to the Italian FA asking it to take the appropriate steps to investigate and decide on this matter and report to Fifa."

Tevecchio caused controversy in comments he made at his election launch last Friday.

"Opti Poba, who previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first-team player at Lazio," the 71-year-old said, in reference to Paul Pogba, the France international who plays for Juventus.

Tavecchio apologised afterwards but stressed he was not a racist.

"I accept every criticism but not the accusation of racism because my whole life bears witness to the contrary."

The Italian FA were reminded that "the fight against racism is a top priority for Fifa" and that they were obliged to do everything possible to stamp out racism.

"In its correspondence, Fifa also stressed that officials of the football community are expected to act as role models in the fight against racism," the statement on Fifa's official website concluded.

The overseas contingent in Serie A has become topical since Italy crashed out of the World Cup in the first round.

This is by no means the first time Italian football has become embroiled in racism. In May, Serie A side Atalanta were fined by Fifa after bananas were thrown at AC Milan defender Kevin Constant.

After the World Cup Mario Balotelli hit out at what he termed his "racist" detractors after being blamed for the Azzurri's premature exit.

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FOOTBALL

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.

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