Lega Serie B President Andrea Abodi assured FIGC candidate Carlo Tavecchio “is not racist,” but the Coaches’ Association condemned him.
Tavecchio is expected to win the vote as new President of the Federation on August 11, but caused consternation when using racist imagery in explaining the lack of a work permit system.
“We say that any old Opti Pobà can come here, before he was eating bananas, now he’s playing in the Lazio first XI.
“In England the players have to prove their curriculum and pedigree first.”
The Players’ Association President Damiano Tommasi said he received numerous calls of complaint and shock, but Lega Serie B chief Abodi rushed to his defence.
“We directors have many, many more duties than the fans. We therefore have to be much, much more careful in our behaviour and our language.
“However, make sure to note an unacceptable phrase does not make someone a racist. Demagoguery is not a good cure.
“The truth is we are all responsible for this climate where everyone needs to find an enemy to judge and condemn.”
Tavecchio, who is 71 years old and currently President of the LND (amateur league), apologised afterwards and seemed not to realise why his comments had caused offence.
Renzo Ulivieri, President of the Italian Coaches’ Association, was unimpressed.
“The gaffe is something for those who put him forward as a candidate to consider. We back Demetrio Albertini and if he had said something like that I’d have removed my support.”
So far Tavecchio has the backing of the LND, Lega Pro, Serie B and all but two Serie A clubs – Juventus and Roma.
Calls are growing among the fans on social media for Tavecchio to step down from the race, as he cannot be expected to fight racism while making such statements.