Fifa requests investigation into Tavecchio racism row

Football's governing body demands an enquiry into reports that the 71-year-old claimed that African players had merely been "eating bananas" before being signed by Serie A sides
Fifa has written to the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) to ask it to investigate alleged racist comments by one of its presidential candidates.

During a speech in his capacity as the head of Italy's amateur leagues (LND) in which he invented a fictitious player named 'Opti Poba' to illustrate a point about the influx of foreign players, Carlo Tavecchio reportedly inferred that African players had merely been "eating bananas" before being taken on by Serie A clubs.

The comments have sparked outrage in Italy, with many calling for the 71-year-old to withdraw from his battle with Demetrio Albertini to succeed Giancarlo Abete as FIGC president, and now Fifa is demanding an enquiry into the affair.

"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," read a statement released by world football's governing body.

"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.

"In its correspondence, Fifa also stressed that officials of the football community are expected to act as role models in the fight against racism."