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Date: 24 March 2019

  World - Soccer

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Blatter's worrying flip-flopping on racism in soccer

[Posted 17 Nov 2011]
[By Beezsports Editor]
Blatter"s worrying flip-flopping on racism in soccer

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has within a very short space of time denied that racism is a problem in football, before making a 360 degree turn about to claim that he actually meant the opposite, arguing that his comments were misunderstood and quoted out of context.

Responding to a CNN journalist's inquiry on whether the Fifa boss thought that racism on the soccer field was a problem, Blatter emphatically responded, "I would deny it. There is no racism.

"There is maybe one of the players (who walk) towards another - he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one.

"But the one who is affected by that, he should say 'this is a game'. We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination."

There was an immediate reaction from a representative of mostly black players who have been hardest hit by racial abuse in football, particularly in Europe, Rio Ferdinand .

The Manchester United and England centre back tweeted in reaction: "Tell me I have just read Sepp Blatter's comments on racism in football wrong....if not then I am astonished."

Former Tottenham Hotspur striker Garth Crooks was equally shocked at and critical of Blatter's remarks.

"Clearly Sepp Blatter is a man who's never suffered from racism," he said. "I'm shocked and somewhat dismayed."

After realising that his ill-conceived views on racism and his ill-advised utterances had caused an uproar in the world of football, Blatter back-tracked on his earlier comments.

"My comments have been misunderstood. What I wanted to express is that, as football players, during a match, you have 'battles' with your opponents, and sometimes things are done which are wrong," the Fifa boss explained. 

"But, normally, at the end of the match, you apologise to your opponent if you had a confrontation during the match, you shake hands, and when the game is over, it is over."

Blatter even tried to woodwink readers and listeners by attempting to cover his denials, suggesting that he could not have denied the existence of racism in football because, as he claims, he has been a champion of Fifa's fight against racism.

"I would like to make it very clear, I am committed to the fight against racism and any type of discrimination in football and in society.

"I have been personally leading this battle against racism in football, which Fifa has been fighting through campaigns such as Say No to Racism," Blatter added in his statement.

BBC's respected Correspondent James Pearce has aptly described Blatter's comments and perfectly provided a juxtaposition of his comments to the decisive action that the English FA appears to be adopting towards reported incidents of racism in English football.

"This is one of Sepp Blatter's worst gaffes, without a doubt. On the day that Blatter says there is no racism in football, the FA has charged Luis Suarez with just that. The FA is taking a tough stance on racism and this could lead to a lengthy ban, potentially. If someone is found guilty of racial abuse the FA will, I'm sure, throw the book at them," Pearce said.

To many soccer fans who abhor racism in football and who are worried about this problem rearing its ugly head time and again, the Fifa boss' comments are any of the below; shocking, confusing and very disturbing, especially coming from a world leader in soccer.

There are three possible interpretations to Blatter's latest gaffe.

Firstly, some may feel that Blatter could simply be in denial about soccer's time-honoured cancer, which is unfortunately spreading like veld fire in Europe at the moment.

Secondly, as Crooks stated, it is either that Blatter is clueless and out of sync with worrying developments and trends in football, particularly the problem of racism, because he has never suffered from racism.

Thirdly, Blatter has opened himself to even more serious accusations, and those vehemently opposed to racism in football and the majority of players who have been affected, could hold the view that Blatter himself could be racist at the core, and maybe that could explain why he trivialises the problem and thinks that a simple handshake can solve an enormous problem. 

Just recently, Luiz Suarez and John Terry have been embroiled in racism allegations in the Barclays English Premier Soccer League. Infact, the two players are currently under investigations from the FA, and Blatter as world leader in football surely is aware of that!

Samuel Eto'o and many other players endured many incidents of racism in the Spanish topflight league in the past. There were monkey cries which greeted Eto'o each time he was in possession when playing away from home in Spain.

Only in September, Bulgarian fans allegedly racially abused Ashley Young, Ashley Cole and Theo Walcot of England during a Euro qualifier which England comfortably won away from home. 

The racial chants were so obvious that Bulgaria coach Lothar Matthäus felt duty-bound to apologise to England on behalf of the Bulgarian Football Federation after the match. Even the abused players were aware of the racial chants directed at them during the match.

"I was aware of it," Walcot said of the racial chants against him and his fellow black players in the England team.

 "I think the FA will deal with it but it was very clear. I ignored it. But that's me. The result tonight was the most important thing," added Walcot. 

The magnitude of the problem of racism is such that even people outside football are aware that there is a huge problem. It explains why the soccer world is reeling under Blatter's ill-conceived and insensitive claims that abused players should take the abuse like men and just shake hands to resolve the matter.


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