ROME (AP) — Despite allegations of racism marring his electoral campaign, Carlo Tavecchio was elected the new president of the Italian football federation on Monday.
Tavecchio beat Demetrio Albertini in the race to replace Giancarlo Abete, with the 71-year-old earning 63.63 percent of the votes in the third round of balloting. Albertini received 33.95 percent of the votes cast by the 274 delegates present.
"I will be the president of everyone, especially those who didn't vote for me," Tavecchio said. "I have never been at ease with words. We will carry out reforms together, there are no magic recipes."
Tavecchio had been the outstanding favorite before he sparked outrage recently 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."
The statement prompted FIFA to ask the FIGC to investigate, while several leading clubs withdrew support for the amateur leagues president, who originally had the backing of all Serie A teams apart from Juventus and Roma.
AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani was one of the first to congratulate Tavecchio after the election at the Hilton hotel in Fiumicino.
"Practically all of the clubs from Serie A, B, Lega Pro and the amateur league voted, as decided by the respective assemblies, for Carlo Tavecchio," Galliani said. "I would say the most important political fact is that, for the first time ever, there is unity between the four leagues."
"The leagues believed Carlo Tavecchio to be the most suited person to carry out these reforms. Albertini also proposed reforms. I would say this: there has never been a unity like this."
Abete resigned along with national team coach Cesare Prandelli immediately after Italy's first-round elimination from the World Cup.
One of Tavecchio's first tasks will be to select a new Italy coach. Antonio Conte is among the favorites after he quit Juventus shortly after steering it to a third successive Serie A title.
The electoral assembly began at midday, with speeches from both presidential candidates as well as an emotional Abete.
The 274 delegates represented the various leagues of Italian football, as well as footballers, coaches and referees. However, the votes had different weights, adding up to a total of 509.
A majority of 75 percent was needed to win in the first round of balloting, where Tavecchio received 60.2 percent of the votes and Albertini 35.46 percent.
Tavecchio increased his advantage to 63.18 percent in the second round, with Albertini earning 34.07 percent but that still wasn't sufficient, with two-thirds of the vote needed.
Tavecchio was eventually declared president at approximately 5:20pm local time (3:20pm GMT), with the third round of voting requiring a simple majority.