Last August, Italy’s FA president Carlo Tavecchio was banned from holding any official position within FIFA for six months for making racist remarks.
Tavecchio’s ordeal stemmed from remarks he made in July while was campaigning to be the head of Italy’s FA. While making the case for his candidacy, he made up a fictional African player named “Opti Poba,” and then proceeded to abuse the fake African. Tavecchio words: “In England, they identify the players coming in and, if they are professional, they are allowed to play. Here instead we get ‘Opti Poba,’ who previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first-team player with Lazio.”
Well, recently in Italy, a group of black players got together to form an amateur team. Their team name? ASD Opti Poba. The team, based in southern Italy, is comprised of asylum seekers and refugees. The team’s Facebook page describes the team’s purpose:
“We set ourselves the goal of promoting, through the game of football and by all means possible, a real integration of the first into Italian society, and as a result of making a comparison, which is synonymous with growth, through the exchange of experiences between Italian and non-EU citizens.”
Here’s a team photo:
If there’s any justice, several of these players will end up playing for Lazio, just to irritate Tavecchio. Then again, Lazio isn’t exactly known as a bastion of tolerance.