Sunday July 27 2014
Lotito: 'Tavecchio not a criminal'

Lazio President Claudio Lotito stands by Carlo Tavecchio in the racism row. “He used a colourful term.”

Lotito was the main backer for LND (amateur league) President Tavecchio to become President of the FIGC (Italian football federation) rather than Demetrio Albertini.

“We say that any old Opti Pobà can come here, before he was eating bananas, now he’s playing in the Lazio first XI,” said Tavecchio on Friday.

Despite the racism row that has enveloped Tavecchio, the Lazio patron is still bullish in his support for the 71-year-old.

“You are creating confusion around the real issue,” Lotito told Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper.

“He was discussing the use of these lads and that they take away space from homegrown young players. We need to evaluate the ratio of his words.

“He comes from the Lega Dilettanti, which is contrary to discrimination. The LND is the basis of Italian football.

“His language was improper. He was speaking emphatically for an hour and a half, off the cuff. You are the ones who are exasperating the situation by blowing it up in the media.

“Tavecchio misspoke, but he should not be treated as a criminal. He used a colourful term. But he realised that and then apologised. Even the priest on the altar can make a mistake. People are creating a scandal because of political reasons.”

Tavecchio’s racist comments are not the only problem with his candidacy as President of the FIGC, as he also lost five trials for fraud, abuse of office and failure to disclose information in an inquiry from 1970 to 1998.

“If we look at it that way, we’d need to pick the fleas out of everyone’s coat. We are interested in substantial aspects,” insisted Lotito.

“I judge those who are in front of me by how they act and what they say. This pseudo-morality is no good to anyone. I don’t go digging into the past of people.

“Tavecchio became the first choice candidate because we looked past individual interests to what was best for the collective. Working to the advantage of one club when damaging another would be myopic.

“Are we Robin Hoods? Yes. It is an issue of equality and dignity, that is the inspirational focus.”

Lazio fans have been protesting against Lotito for years and there were more angry scenes when they failed to sign Davide Astori this week.

“In Rome there is the problem of radio stations. In the rest of Italy, the Lazio fans adore me.”

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