(JTA) — The president of the Italian Football Federation said he has “nothing against” Jews and gays, but that he prefers to keep such people at a distance.
The comments by Carlo Tavecchio were recorded for an interview with the online magazine Soccer Life and published on the website of the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
Tavecchio made the remarks while talking about a Jewish-Italian businessman Cesere Anticoli.
“It was bought by that Jew, Anticoli,” Tavecchio said in the recording. “I have nothing against the Jews, but better to keep them at bay.”
He used the Italian term “ebreaccio,” a pejorative for “ebreo,” or Jew.
He also said: “I don’t have anything against gays – but keep them away from me.”
Tavecchio said in response to the publication of the recording: “It’s blackmail; retaliation from someone to whom I denied funding, who recorded me without my knowledge, not as part of an interview. What’s more, the audio file could have been tampered with.
He added: “If you listen to the recording, my words are clear: I have had long personal and professional relationships with Jews. The charges of homophobia are also groundless.”
Tavecchio was elected president of the Italian Football Federation in August 2014. He has made racist comments in the past.