ROME – A leading candidate for Italian football federation president is facing fierce criticism and calls to step aside following a racist comment.
Amateur leagues president Carlo Tavecchio caused a stir on Friday when he discussed the presence of foreign players in Italy.
Referring to a hypothetical name and situation, Tavecchio 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."
Tavecchio apologized and claims he isn't racist but the players' and coaches' associations both expressed outrage.
The Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper also called for the 71-year-old Tavecchio to stand down in an editorial Sunday.
The only other candidate in the Aug. 11 election is former AC Milan player Demetrio Albertini.