The problem with Sepp Blatter and his apology for his racist remarks is that he will do and say anything to stay in power. The FIFA President is simply out of touch with the modern world and he just can’t be trusted to be the most powerful man at football’s governing body.
The truth is that Blatter knew his position was untenable if he did not say sorry for causing worldwide outrage for his controversial comments that racial discrimination could be settled with a handshake. And it is simply not good enough to say he is sorry and that he did not expect his comments to cause such a reaction.
Even as he was making his apology in an interview with the BBC, Blatter went on to make further inflamatory remarks that will anger football’s biggest stars – including David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand – for daring to criticise him.
The 75-year-old Swiss, who is being urged to quit by players, fans, officials and politicians, hit back by saying he expected “better understanding from star players”
Blatter sparked universal outrage when he said that on the pitch it is not racism and can be settled with a handshake, but off the pitch it is racism.
It was a bold attempt to repair the damage when he read out a statement in which he stated: “I started my FIFA career in Africa 36 years ago and it is part of my core values to respect all nations all cultures and I see football as a game that unites people. i am sorry and I regret that my statements earlier this week have resulted in an unfortunate situation. I am committed to the fight against racism. And I have no doubt about that. i want to make it very clear i will not stop until we have stamped out of football racism.”
But the fact that Blatter did not expect his words to cause such a reaction is confirmation that he is not fit to govern football. While his headmasterly rebuke for the players who have condemned him just underlines the feeling that FIFA’s President is a dictator who mistakenly believes he can do no wrong and can stay in power forever.
Players who have publicly criticised Blatter include Andy Cole who said he is “an out of touch buffoon.” Ferdinand said the comments were “so condescending it’s almost laughable”. Garth Crooks admitted he was “shocked” because “”Fifa have a policy of zero tolerance on racism” and the “is not really actually living up to what he signed up to.” Beckham described Blatter’s utterances as “appalling” and said some things “can’t just be sorted out with just a handshake.”
Despite the furore, the FIFA boss will not walk away insisting: ” i can not resign. Why should i resign? This is not compatible with my fighting spirit.”
There is no doubt Blatter is an extremely clever politician and he has done many good things for football during his 13 year tenure as president. But the beautiful game is bigger than any one man and for the good of football Blatter must go before his next big gaffe brings more shame on the world’s most popular sport.
The Blatter controversy comes at a time when Chelsea captain John Terry is being investigated by the police and the Football Association over alleged racist remarks made to Ferdinand’s brother, QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, in a recent game between the two sides. While Liverpool’s Luis Suarez has also been charged by the FA for alleged racist comments towards Ferdinand’s Manchester United team-mate Patrice Evra.
Asked if racism was a problem on the pitch, Blatter told CNN World Sport: “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. But also the one who is affected by that. He should say that this is a game. At the end of the game, we shake hands.”
He also said, on Al Jazeera: “During a match you may say something to someone who’s not looking exactly like you, but at the end of match it’s forgotten.”