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The 71-year-old FIGC presidential candidate has been heavily criticised for suggesting African players had merely been "eating bananas" before coming to the country

Carlo Tavecchio says that not even John F. Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, had to deal with the level of public and media persecution he claims to have been subjected to since finding himself at the centre of a racism storm.

The 71-year-old caused controversy when he suggested during a speech on the influx of foreign players into Italy that African youngsters had been doing nothing else but "eating bananas" before being signed by Serie A sides.

There have since been numerous calls for Tavecchio to pull out of the race to succeed Giancarlo Abete as Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president, with Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini arguing that it would be an embarrassment if the Ponte Lambro native beats Demetrio Albertini in the August 11 election.

However, Tavecchio feels that he has been unfairly maligned, insisting that he is not a racist.

“John F. Kennedy’s assassin [Oswald] didn’t have to suffer what I have endured over the last few days,” he told Radio 1.

“And to think that these last few days mark 30 years since I started my work in Africa, where I have helped to build and open a hospital and where I have sponsored three children ..."

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