Sepp Blatter once again engages his mouth before his pea sized brain. The most important football administrator in the world believes there is no racism in football. In the event that a player utters a racist remark to another he suggests they shake hands and well….get on with the rest of their lives. Blatter is an enigma. He fought incredibly hard to ensure that South Africa was given the opportunity to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He has also done more than any FIFA President in promoting football in Africa and was instrumental in the decision to award more places to African teams at the World Cup.
That makes his stance on the existence of racism in football even more bewildering.
Asked if racism was a problem on the pitch, Blatter told CNN World Sport: ”I would deny it. There is no racism, there is maybe one of the players towards another, he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one. ”But also the one who is affected by that, he should say that 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.”
He also said on Al Jazeera: ”During a match you may say something to someone who’s not looking exactly like you, but at end of match it’s forgotten.”
Understandably Blatter’s remarks has caused such an uproar that England footballer Rio Ferdinand felt it merited a twit to Blatter’s twitter account asking him - “So If fans shout racist chants but shake our hands is that ok?”
Surely with the next World Cup due to be hosted by Russia, one would have thought Sepp Blatter would be galvanising his anti-racism team at FIFA in ensuring that, Russia with its heinous track record on football racism are putting measures in place to welcome all en sundry regardless of race and creed.
It should also be pointed out to Sepp Blatter that only 24 hours ago the English FA charged a football player over an alleged racist insult. The notion that racism does not exist in football seems naive. Footballers and football fans are part of society and, therefore, one would expect the same social ailments that aflict society to be prevalent in the sport. One would also expect the extent to which football racism is taken seriously to vary enormously. Black players are routinely abused and face racist chants mostly in Eastern Europe. Such blatant racist chants and the bizarre tradition of throwing bananas on the field of play have largely been wiped out in most Western European countries such as France and England.
What is shocking about Blatter’s bone headed utterances revolves around the fact that he is a sophisticated educated man who also happens to be the world’s top football administrator. Surely, he must have a better understanding of racism and its effect on football players than most.
Should Sepp Blatter, therefore, do the honourable thing by falling on his sword? Are his statements proof that as the Head of all the world’s Football Associations he is simply incapable of ensuring that all football players regardless of race are protected on the football field?