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Media: Blatter must go

17 November 2011, 15:22

London - Britain's media called on FIFA president Sepp Blatter to resign on Thursday after the global football supremo played down the extent of racism in the sport.

Blatter triggered widespread condemnation on Wednesday after suggesting that footballers who are subjected to racist abuse by opponents should settle their differences with a handshake.

Although the 75-year-old FIFA chief later said in a statement his remarks had been miscontrued, his comments were greeted with incredulity by the British media and anti-racism campaigners.

The Sun tabloid led the condemnation with a front page story headlined "Blind as a Blatt", while the paper's editorial said it was time for the veteran Swiss official to step down from his post.

"Blatter has long been a serious embarrassment to the game," the paper said. "Now we know he thinks racism is no big deal. What a toad he is."

Blatter's comments came as Liverpool's Uruguayan international Luis Suarez was charged by the English Football Association for allegedly racially abusing Manchester United's French international Patrice Evra.

England captain John Terry is also facing a police and FA investigation over allegations he hurled racist abuse at QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.

The Daily Telegraph's respected football correspondent Henry Winter, meanwhile, said Blatter's position at the summit of the sport was untenable.

"Any politician who had uttered similarly offensive comments would have been sacked or resigned," Winter wrote. "Yet Tyrannosaurus Sepp carries on, an embarrassment to a wonderful sport, an affront to common decency."

Blatter's suggestion that players who are the victims of racist abuse should simply shake hands with their abusers at the end of a match was "unbelievable," Winter commented.

"Why should a black player tolerate that? Denigrating an opponent on account of skin colour is despicable, and illegal ... such words would be shameless if coming from a humble kitman; spilling from the lips of the most powerful man in football is staggering."

The Times' football correspondent Oliver Kay questioned whether the furore would be enough to unseat Blatter, who was re-elected to another four-year term in June.

"Nobody is saying that Blatter is a racist," Kay wrote.

"But if the FIFA president believes that footballers who encounter racist abuse should live with it, shake hands and move on, he is even more dreadfully out of touch than was feared.

"In any respectable, democratic, accountable organisation, this would be the final straw for Blatter. But unfortunately we are talking about FIFA..."

In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Blatter said the sport did not have a problem with racism on the pitch.

"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," he said.

"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."

Former England captain Rio Ferdinand addressed Blatter directly via Twitter: "Your comments on racism are so condescending it's almost laughable. If fans shout racist chants but shake our hands is that ok?"

In an earlier tweet, the Manchester United defender wrote: "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??"


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