One of my favourite sports journalist Pedro Pinto interviewed Sepp Blatter. FIFA President said “Racists insults should be forgotten”. Among other things, he encourages the victims of racism to shake hands at the end of the game. Some live in the real world, others do not.
To the question “Is there racism on the pitch”, Blatter answer is “I would deny it”. FIFA President added:
“There is no racism, there is maybe one of the players towards the other, 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 it’s a game, we are in a game.
“At the end of the game, it is over and you have the next game where you can behave better.”
“We shake hands, this can happen, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.”
The Head of world football insited on FIFA’s effort to eradicate racism off football, but still focuses on the fact that it’s “just a game”, and players should shake hands in the end.
The social media world got furious, angry and ashamed. Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand said on Twitter: “I feel stupid for thinking that football was taking a leading role against racism”. Kick it out, the England organisation who is committed to wipe racism in football said: Blatter’s comments are worringly out of touch”.
Sepp Blatter published on FIFA website a note aiming at clarifying his comments: “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.
“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.
First of all, I totally agree with Kick it out statement. Sepp Blatter is worryingly, and scarily I should add, out of touch. How can anyone knowing football deny the presence of racism in football? How can anyone knowing football just a tiny bit, could imply that the victims of racism should shake hands and………move on?
Secondly, FIFA President statements point out the reason why racism in football is still a major plague. I mean, since he thinks there is no racism in football, why should something significant be done against it?
Just shake hands and move on guys, nothing happened, stop whining! Why should, players like Suarez be punished for his racists insults? Why should Russian clubs with openly racists fans and staff should be banned? No big deal guys! shake hands, have a beer and see ya!
Blatter points out that FIFA’s efforts to fight against racism. My question would have been what concrete measures have been taken so far? Can someone shed a light on this? A tee-shirt or captain armband with a “No to racism” print? A communication campaign with no global impact? A slap on the hand to clubs with racists fans? A letter to Di Canio telling him he should not salute the fans with such a “hand motion”?
Let’s face it. Nothing significant has been done by football governing bodies against racism so far. They should then take their responsibities if racism is not going backwards. Clubs such as FC Barcelona, organisations such as Kick it out or FARE made fight against racism their leitmotiv. What about FIFA?
Thank you very much Pedro Pinto for this interview. It does outline the tremendous gap between the reality of football and what the world governing body think it is.
Check out the video below, and watch carefully the very end. When Blatter finished speaking, there are a few seconds when he looks at the CNN journalist. I would have paid a lot of money to see Pedro’s face at that moment……His face must have been like: “Dude, are you for real?”