Blatter urges against boycotts

17 January 2014 11:01

FIFA president Sepp Blatter claims both the World Cup and the winter Olympics in Sochi have been "misused" as a platform for political protest.

Blatter insists those calling for a boycott of the Olympics because of human rights issues - the broadcaster Stephen Fry has backed a boycott over Russia's anti-gay laws - will achieve nothing.

FIFA is also facing up to the prospect of widespread protests at this summer's World Cup in Brazil after last year's warm-up tournament, the Confederations Cup, was targeted by mass demonstrations.

Blatter, who is also an International Olympic Committee member, said in his column in FIFA weekly: "2014 marks a year of celebration in the sporting world, with the winter Olympics in Sochi in February followed by the football World Cup in Brazil this summer.

"These two events have one thing in common: they have both been misused as a platform for political disputes, and in the case of the winter Olympics, this dispute is coming to a head with threats to boycott the Games.

"Such a boycott would change nothing. On the contrary, it may be interpreted as a refusal to establish a dialogue on the issue, as was the case with boycotts of the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980 or in Los Angeles in 1984."

Russia is also hosting the 2018 World Cup and Blatter said he is sure "unpleasant issues" would be raised during the Olympics, which was why it was important to go to Sochi. The stadium for the opening ceremony is also a host venue for 2018.

He added: "I believe that such a major event presents a perfect opportunity to strike up conversations and cultivate contacts.

"It is also likely that unpleasant issues will be addressed, because FIFA's fight against discrimination does not end with the anti-racism campaign.

"We must fight every form of social exclusion.

"Anyone who decides to boycott the winter Olympics in Sochi will be surrendering on this important issue, just as anyone running away from a problem will never be able to resolve it. This reason alone is why it is important for me to travel to Russia."

Source: PA