- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A day after his election, new Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio sounded out former Juventus manager Antonio Conte in the search for a new coach for the national team.

Conte is the outstanding favorite to replace Cesare Prandelli, who resigned - along with former FIGC president Giancarlo Abete - immediately after Italy’s early elimination from the World Cup in Brazil.

The 45-year-old Conte quit his job at Juventus shortly after steering the club to a third straight Serie A title.

Former Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini is also among the candidates for the role, with the appointment set to be finalized at the FIGC council meeting on Monday.

“I woke up and 7 and I immediately started working,” Tavecchio said on Tuesday, as he left FIGC headquarters. “I spoke to Antonio Conte and three or four others. I don’t have a definitive answer, otherwise I would have said.

“(Conte) is a good choice, but I didn’t just speak to him. The choice will be made before Monday. I am optimistic for the future of the federation and Italy.”

Tavecchio beat Demetrio Albertini in Monday’s presidential elections, despite allegations of racism marring his campaign.

The 71-year-old Tavecchio won with 63.63 percent of the votes in the third round of balloting, prompting criticism by many of those still shocked by comments made during the election race, when he discussed the presence of foreign players in Italy.

Using a hypothetical name, he 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.”

Former Man City midfielder Patrick Vieira, who also had spells at both Milan clubs and Juventus, took to social media to express his dismay on Tuesday.

“I’m finding it really hard to believe that Carlo Tavecchio has been elected as president of the Italian FA after the comments that he made,” Vieira said in a post. “For me, that shows how far away the Italian football authorities are from dealing with discrimination. I played in Italy for years so I know the issues, I saw the issues.

“If he was an English man making this kind of comment, politically, he would be completely out. This decision was made in football, but I think it is bigger than football. It should make the whole country of Italy look at the message they want to send about what they think about racism. I can’t believe he will represent the Italian Football Authorities. What a shame.”

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