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Fifa toughens racism ban for Italy FA president

Fifa on Wednesday toughened a ban imposed by Europe's governing body against Italian Football Federation boss Carlo Tavecchio for comments condemned as racist.

Fifa toughens racism ban for Italy FA president
Carlo Tavecchio's ban started on October 7th. Photo: Emanuele.corr/Wikimedia Commons

Uefa's six month ban from official activity in Europe has been made worldwide by the global governing body.

"Fifa's stance against any form of discrimination is unequivocal," the world body's disciplinary committee said in announcing the extra punishment for the 71-year-old Tavecchio.

Uefa banned Tavecchio on October 7th for comments made earlier this year during his reelection campaign in July.

The veteran Italian powerbroker contrasted the player-recruitment approach of Italian clubs with English teams. "Here we get 'Opti Poba' who previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first-team player at Lazio," he said at the public meeting in July.

The comments appeared to be aimed at France and Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, who is black, and sparked a major controversy.

The chairman of the Fifa Disciplinary Committee decided to extend the sanction imposed by Uefa, the world body said in a statement.

"As such, Mr Tavecchio is ineligible for any position as a Fifa official for a period of six months starting from 7th October 2014."

Tavecchio will still be able to attend Fifa's congress at the end of May once the ban has ended. He has apologized for the comments.

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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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