PARIS, France, November 17 – FIFA President Sepp Blatter plunged himself into more controversy on Wednesday when he told CNN that players who suffer racial abuse should simply shake hands with their abuser.
The Swiss – who was re-elected unopposed earlier this year amid claims of corruption within FIFA – added he didn’t believe that racism was prevalent within football.
His claims came on the back of a Football Association (FA) and police investigation into whether England captain John Terry racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand and the announcement by the FA on Wednesday they had charged Uruguayan Luis Suarez with racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
Blatter, however, insisted that generally racism did not exist within the sport and there was no need for investigations into claims by the likes of Evra and Ferdinand.
“There is no racism, but maybe there is a word or gesture which is not the correct one,” the 75-year-old Blatter told CNN World Sport.
“The one affected by this should say this is a game and shake hands.”
Blatter’s comments provoked a bemused response from former England captain Rio Ferdinand, brother of Anton.
“Tell me I have just read Sepp Blatter’s comments on racism in football wrong….if not then I am astonished,” tweeted the Manchester United star.
Blatter later issued a statement clarifying his remarks.
“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,” he said.
“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.”