ZURICH (AP) — FIFA asked the Italian football federation on Monday to open an investigation into alleged racist comments by Carlo Tavecchio, a leading candidate for the presidency of the national body.
Tavecchio said he still has support for his candidacy, despite what he called his "improper words," and will remain in the race.
"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 and its chairman Jeffrey Webb," world football's governing body said in a statement. "As such, 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.
"In the letter, FIFA reminded the Italian FA that the fight against racism is a top priority for FIFA."
Tavecchio, who is president of the amateur leagues in Italy, sparked outrage on Friday when he discussed the presence of foreign players in Italy.
Using a hypothetical name, he said, "In England they select players based on professionalism, whereas we say that 'Opti Poba' is here, he was eating bananas before and now he's starting for Lazio and that's OK."
Tavecchio is one of the leading candidates to replace Giancarlo Abete, who resigned along with national team coach Cesare Prandelli immediately after Italy's first-round elimination from the World Cup last month.
The 71-year-old Tavecchio, who insisted he still has the support of the Italian leagues, broke his silence on the matter on Monday afternoon.
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