Sepp Blatter claims racism can be forgotten with handshake

17 November 2011 10:27
Sepp Blatter is facing renewed calls for his resignation after dismissing on-pitch racism - just as the FA charged Luis Suarez over allegations he racially abused Patrice Evra.

In a statement the FA said Liverpool's Suarez had been charged for allegedly making 'a reference to the ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race of Patrice Evra'.

Scroll down to watch the Blatter interview.

Charged: It is claimed Suarez racially abused Evra last month

At the same time, England captain John Terry remains the subject of an FA inquiry and a formal Metropolitan Police investigation into claims that he racially abused Anton Ferdinand at Loftus Road last month.

But when FIFA president Blatter was asked for his view on the issue in a series of interviews, he gave an astonishing response.

Under fire: Suarez has strenuously denied the claims

Asked directly by a CNN reporter if racism exists on the pitch, Blatter denied it and said such incidents should simply be settled by a handshake at the end of the match.

'I would deny it,' he said. '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.

Eye of the storm: Sepp Blatter embraces FIFA member Tokyo Sexwale

'We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen. On the field of play sometimes you say something that is not very correct, but then at the end of the game you have the next game where you can behave better.'

To a reporter from Al-Jazeera he simply compounded the situation. 

'During a match you may say something to somebody who is not exactly looking like you,' he said. 'But at the end. it's forgotten.'

Blatter first tried to repair the  damage on his official Twitter page, without much success.

Centre of attention: England captain Terry has been accused of aiming racially abusive language at Ferdinand

After that FIFA released an official statement on their website. Blatter, alongside a  picture of him embracing a black man, claimed his comments had been 'misunderstood'.

His statement said: 'The statement said: '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 against throughout the past years through campaigns in all of our competitions such as the 'Say no to racism' campaign.

'I also know that racism unfortunately continues to exist in football, and I have never denied this. I know that it is a big problem in society, and that it also affects sport.


Rio Ferdinand (right), who is awaiting the outcome of allegations of racist comments made against his brother Anton by John Terry, was quick to condemn Sepp Blatter's comments on Twitter.

'Tell me I have just read Sepp Blatter's comments on racism in football wrong. if not then I am astonished.'

'I feel stupid for thinking that football was taking a leading role against racism. it seems it was just on mute for a while.'

'Just for clarity if a player abuses a referee, does a shake of the hand after the game wipe the slate clean??'

'I strongly believe that we should continue to fight all together against racism on and off the field of play, in order to eradicate this plague.

'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. 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.

'Anyone who has played a football match, or a match in any sport, knows that this is the case.

'Having said that, I want to stress again that I do not want to diminish the dimension of the problem of racism in society and in sport. I am committed to fighting this plague and kicking it out of football.'

Last night, the latest storm to engulf FIFA's president was being digested by Sports Minister Hugh Robertson and the FA.

But there was condemnation from Football Against Racism In Europe, who described Blatter's comments as 'insensitive and not what you want to hear from someone who should be leading the game'.

Investigation: Terry is awaiting his outcome

PFA chief Gordon Taylor condemned Blatter's comments, saying: 'It's very insensitive and inappropriate at this time. As the president of FIFA he's got to be shouting from the topof the hills that it's unacceptable.'

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said racism does still exist in football and that they would continue to strive to eradicate it.He told CNN: 'Racism exists in the world, racism certainly still exists in football, albeit reduced. There are still issues, of course there are and we're not complacent about that, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to say it doesn't exist because it does.'

Strong stance: Premier League chief Richard Scudamore

Asked about the two FA investigations into allegations of on-pitch racism Scudamore added: 'The English game has led and has been at the forefront of reducing incidents of racist behaviour, it's totally unacceptable.

'Everybody in the game in England understands it's totally unacceptable, we have that reputation and as far as I'm aware that reputation is still intact until proven otherwise.

'But of course the game will deal with whatever is thrown against it. There is no place for it in football let alone in England and we will continue to strive to eradicate it.'

Rio Ferdinand, the former England captain and brother of Anton, was one of several footballers to express his considerable dismay on his Twitter page.

This all came on the day the FA finally charged Suarez after a month of investigations relating to the events that allegedly took place at Anfield on October 15.

Manchester United's Evra claimed, after the 1-1 draw between the two great North West rivals, that Suarez called him a 'n****r' at least 10 times, a claim that is believed to have been backed up by some of the Frenchman's team-mates during the exhaustive interviews that followed.

Suarez himself broke cover earlier this month, claiming that the word he used was similar to that used by United players when referring to Evra.

There was also a suggestion that he may have used the word 'negrito', a term that is not considered offensive in his native South America.

A Liverpool club statement said: 'We will discuss the matter fully with him but he will plead not guilty and we expect him to request a personal hearing. Luis remains determined to clear his name.'

 Astonished Ferdinand calls Blatter 'laughable' after racism commentsSuarez charged! FA take action as striker prepares to plead not guilty in Evra race rowRacism? It can all be forgotten in a handshake, says Blatter (the head of world football)It's not racist in South America! Reds star Suarez adamant over Evra claims

Source: Daily_Mail