SBD/November 18, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Sepp Blatter Apologizes For Comments On Racism, Says He Won't Resign

Blatter said he will not resign, but will "face the problem" instead
FIFA President Sepp Blatter Thursday said that he is "sorry for causing offence with his controversial statement on racism," according to BBC SPORT. Blatter "appeared to suggest on Wednesday that racial discrimination could be settled with a handshake." Blatter said, "It hurts and I am still hurting because I couldn't envisage such a reaction." Blatter insisted his "fight against racism and discrimination will go on." He said that he would "not resign, despite calls for him to quit by numerous British players, managers, administrators and politicians." Blatter: "I cannot resign. Why should I? When you are faced with a problem you have to face the problem." EPL club Manchester United D Rio Ferdinand accused Blatter of "ignorance," while MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham described Blatter's remarks as "appalling" (BBC.co.uk, 11/18). In London, Ashling O'Connor notes companies that pay "billions of pounds to sponsor the World Cup have failed to condemn" Blatter for his comments. Of the six such sponsors contacted, "each paying between $24 million and $44 million a year to FIFA, only two addressed the matter." Dubai-based airline Emirates "hinted it was considering its sponsorship beyond the 2014 World Cup in Brazil." A company spokesperson said, "Emirates continues to closely watch developments within FIFA ahead of discussions on the extension of our partnership beyond 2014. However, we have no role in the management of the organisation." Hyundai Kia "made the distinction that it was a 'partner of the World Cup and not FIFA.'" Visa, Coca-Cola and adidas all said that they "were opposed to racism or discrimination but made no mention of FIFA or Blatter in brief statements" (LONDON TIMES, 11/18).

TIME TO GO? In London, Gabriele Marcotti writes after his comments, FIFA "went through the trouble of depicting Blatter embracing Tokyo Sexwale, a tireless anti-apartheid campaigner who spent 13 years imprisoned at Robben Island." It "appeared to be the age-old and somewhat tacky 'Some of my best friends are black' defence." FIFA's PR "flacks made this worse by not identifying Sexwale ... which prompted Rio Ferdinand to tweet 'FIFA clear up the Blatter comment with a pic of him posing with a black man'" (LONDON TIMES, 11/18). The GUARDIAN's David Conn wrote amid the FIFA "charm offensive mounted to repair the Sepp Blatter charm offensive bungled the day before was a reminder of all the good things FIFA has done to counter racism and discrimination in football." One of those reforms, "said to be 'at the proposal of president Blatter,' itself demonstrated how wrong and misguided he was to even think of talking about racism victims shaking hands with their abusers" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 11/17). In London, Matthew Norman writes Blatter has been "getting away with murder for a long time." If an "unwitting offence born of arrogance and stupidity does for him now, it would perhaps be rough justice." But "better that than no justice at all" (London TELEGRAPH, 11/18). Also in London, James Lawton writes Blatter, who "understands everything about the value of money and how it can shape people, and apparently absolutely nothing about the meaning of racism, should be driven out into the wind and the sand" (London INDEPENDENT, 11/18).
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