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Carlo Tavecchio elected Italian FA president in the midst of racism issues

Aug 11, 2014, 5:48 PM EDT

Italy Federation Racism AP

The disappointing World Cup exit for Italian football fans this summer saw both the nation’s manager, Cesare Prandelli, and the Italian FA president, Giancarlo Abete, step down from their respective positions.

While still searching for their coach, the Italian football association has found their new president, after 71-year-old Carlo Tavecchio won an election to take up the reigns, the Guardian reported today.

Tavecchio took 63.63% of third-round votes, followed by runner-up Demetrio Albertini, who won 33.95% of the votes at the election.

Raising eyebrows for supposedly making a comment about African players eating bananas while at a summer assembly of Italy’s amateur leagues.

“In England, they identify the players coming in and if they are professional, they are allowed to play,” Tavecchio said at the assembly, discussing England’s restrictions for non-EU players. “Here instead we get Opti Pobà, who previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first-team player with Lazio. That’s how it is here. In England, you need to demonstrate what you have on your CV and your pedigree.”

Tavecchio didn’t vehemtently deny accusations, apologizing and saying he couldn’t “remember” using the word.

“I can’t remember if I said the word ‘banana’ but I was referring to the CV and professionalism required by English football for players who come from Africa or other countries,” he said. “If anyone has interpreted my speech as offensive, I offer my apologies.”

Thus, his election wasn’t as smooth sailing as originally predicted, but regardless of his previous actions, he vowed to better Italian football.

“I will be a president for everybody, and especially for those who have legitimately expressed their dissent about me taking the job. I wish to thank those who have confirmed their confidence in me and who have made me feel supported even during some difficult times.

“Reforming the system can only be done if we work together, there are no magic wands. Let us embrace a culture of hard work. I invite all members to abandon feelings of division and to get to work.”

Although he didn’t specify the general racism that has been noticeably rampant across Europe this past season, the Dani Alves’ banana incident being the most noteworthy, that topic should be addressed.

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