UEFA bans Italian Football Federation (FIGC) President Carlo Tavecchio for six months for racist comment.

Tavecchio has also been barred from the next UEFA Congress over the an alleged comment he made in August, causing an outcry when made a comment about a fictitious African player he named Opti Poba "eating bananas" during the campaign for the FIGC presidency.

UEFA said its disciplinary and ethics panel had also ordered the 71-year-old to organise racism awareness event in Italy.

The decision was an embarrassment for the FIGC whose own investigation had cleared Tavecchio of any wrongdoing. 

Tavecchio was addressing the vexed subject of the lack of opportunities for young Italian players at professional clubs.

"In England, they identify the players coming in and, if they are professional, they are allowed to play," the 71-year-old said.

"Here instead we get 'Opti Poba', who previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first-team player with Lazio."

Tavecchio made the remarks in a speech to a meeting of the assembly of Italy's amateur leagues (LND) of which he was president at the time.

Despite the controversy, he swept to victory in the FICG election against former AC Milan midfielder Demetrio Albertini with the backing of the lower tier clubs and amateur leagues, a result which raised more questions about Italian attitudes to racism in football.

Source: AP