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Blatter and Rio in Tweet war

17 November 2011, 18:50

Zurich - Sepp Blatter has responded to Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand after the FIFA president said on-field incidents of racial abuse could be settled by a handshake.

Ferdinand wrote on Twitter that Blatter's views were "so condescending its almost laughable" in response to Blatters initial comments downplaying incidents of abuse on the field.

Ferdinand was backed up by various sectors of the football fraternity, including prominent British newspapers.

The England player then posted a sarcastic message after FIFA's website published a photograph of Blatter hugging Tokyo Sexwale, South Africa's own Minister of Human Settlements.

"(Sic) Fifa clear up the blatter comments with a pic of him posing with a black man..I need the hand covering eyes symbol!!" read Ferdinand's Tweet.

Blatter said Sexwale, a former Robben Island prisoner, "had done tremendous work against racism and apartheid in Africa."

Blatter did not stop there about a minute later he tweeted: "(Sic)...We (FIFA) have done several joint activities to raise awareness on the struggle against racism in South Africa...," defending his under-fire organization.

"...FIFA has a long standing and proud record in the area of anti-discrimination which will continue," he continued before referring to an article dated back to August in which he asked about the issue of racism in sport.

Blatter's comments Wednesday in television interviews seemed at odds with his pledge after being re-elected in June that FIFA would not tolerate a lack of respect on and off the field.

Blatter used the social networking site, which he joined ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, to direct a tweet at an individual user for the first time.

Asked if football had a problem with racist abuse among players, Blatter downplayed the issue and said players involved in such spats should settle the issue with a handshake.

The Swiss official's opinion sparked outrage in England where two top players are being investigated for racially insulting opponents during recent Premier League games.

Ferdinand — whose brother Anton was the target of an alleged slur by England captain John Terry — led the criticism, saying on Twitter that he was "astonished" by Blatter's comments.

Within hours, the English Football Association charged Liverpool forward Luis Suarez with racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, who is black.

Liverpool said Suarez will plead not guilty and insisted that the club is "fully supportive of Luis in this matter."

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

Later Thursday, UEFA will 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.


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