Blatter downplays racism in football

2011-11-17 07:36

Geneva – With several top footballers facing allegations of hurling racial abuse at opponents on the pitch, Fifa President Sepp Blatter sparked an angry reaction yesterday by suggesting that players involved in such incidents could settle the matter with a simple handshake.

Blatter downplayed incidents of abuse on the field, saying they were “forgotten” after matches, and denied in an interview with broadcaster Al-Jazeera that football had a problem with racism.

His comments sparked outrage in England where authorities are investigating two high-profile cases of alleged verbal abuse among players during recent Premier League matches.

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, whose brother Anton was the target of an alleged racial slur by England captain John Terry, wrote on Twitter that he was “astonished” by Blatter’s reported comments.

“I feel stupid for thinking that football was taking a leading role against racism ... it seems it was just on mute for a while,” Ferdinand wrote.

Blatter’s comments come on the same day that Liverpool forward Luis Suarez was charged by the English Football Association with racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, who is black.

Evra told French TV that Suarez used a racist slur “at least 10 times” during United’s 1-1 draw at Liverpool in the Premier League. Suarez has denied the allegations and has been backed by his club throughout the investigation.

Terry has said his comments were taken out of context, but is being investigated by the FA and London police.

Seeking to calm a growing furore, Blatter issued a further statement that his comments on had been “misunderstood”, and that he is taking the issue of racism seriously.

“I am committed to fighting this plague and kicking it out of football,” Blatter said.

The Fifa president had earlier turned to Twitter trying to calm the growing anger in England.

“Racism and discrimination of any kind have no place in football,” Blatter wrote. “I have said this many times before, and I will say it again and again.”

“However – and it is not an excuse – sometimes, in the heat of the moment, things are said and done on the field of play,” he wrote. “This does not mean that, in general, there is racism on the field of play.”

In the interview with Al-Jazeera, Blatter sought to defuse suggestions that racism and discrimination were problems in world football.

“During a match you may make a movement towards somebody or you may say something to somebody who is not exactly looking like you, but at the end of the day it is forgotten,” Blatter insisted.

“Racism is if there are spectators or, outside the field of play, there are movements to discrimination, but, on the field of play, I deny that there is racism.”

Blatter went on to suggest that if league officials have to deal with an issue or complaint then they should “bring two people together and say ‘Shake hands’.”

In further evidence that suggests racism persists in football stadiums, Uefa will today prosecute a case in which England was the victim of alleged discrimination.

The Bulgarian football federation has been charged after its fans allegedly directed verbal abuse at England players during a European Championship qualifier in Sofia in September.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Junior Chef

Century City
Pro Placements Recruitment Agency
R8 000 - R9 000 Per Month

CSR Inbound

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
O'Brien Recruitment
R14 000 - R16 000 Per Month

Graphic Designer

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Creative Sourcing
R7 000 - R9 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.