Blatter Calls For Harsher Punishments By Governing Bodies To Racist Fans
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has given his support to AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, who on Friday walked off the pitch during an exhibition match after being racially abused by spectators, but added that "such actions do not represent a solution and the only way to deal with racism in football is harsher sanctions by governing bodies," according to Gary Meenaghan of THE NATIONAL. Blatter said that FIFA operates a zero tolerance policy when it comes to racism and Boateng's actions "perfectly illustrate that fans cannot act in such a way." Blatter emphasized, however, that player action "is not the answer and added stronger punishments must be administered." Blatter: "Walk off? No. I don't think that is the solution. The only solution is to be very harsh with the sanctions -- and the sanctions must be a deduction of points or something similar" (THE NATIONAL, 1/6). The SUNDAY TIMES wrote in an interview with CNN, Boateng "expressed his frustration with a perceived lack of support" from FIFA. Boateng said, "So many people in FIFA can do something, and they should wake up and do it. They should not tolerate it. They should ban people forever from the stadiums. That's the first thing you can do" (SUNDAY TIMES, 1/6).
RESPONSES TO THE RACISM: In London, Neil Rowlands reported the Italian Football Federation has responded to the incident "by announcing it will conduct an investigation." FA General Secretary Alex Horne believes that players "do have the right to walk off, but only if previous attempts to draw the abuse to the referee have been ignored." Horne: "If the players feel the referee isn't dealing with it, then I can understand why they walk off the pitch. Why should you have to tolerate that in this day and age?" (DAILY MIRROR, 1/6). Worldwide players' union FIFPro spokesperson Tony Higgins said, "The players of Milan sent a clear message: if racism does not stop, then football will. One solution would be to give referees more power to suspend or abandon games if they consider the racist abuse to be excessive" (RIA NOVOSTI, 1/4). The BBC reported AC Milan's players carried anti-racism messages on their shirts prior to Sunday's match against Siena (BBC, 1/6).