Dear Sepp Blatter, we need the guts to stand up to the racists

THE LAST WORD

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The Independent Football

Sepp Blatter, humanitarian, statesman, philosopher and champion of the oppressed, has now decided he is an expert in evolutionary biology. Racism is apparently hardwired into our DNA, a legacy of a caveman’s survival instinct.

Let us gloss over the fact that the most powerful man in football is referring to a rogue piece of research, from 2012, which was comprehensively rejected by a scientific community which is much more interested in the implications of mouse brains being enlarged by human DNA.

This apparently is a critical clue in the role our intellect played in the species evolving from apes, and becoming so ambulatory that Premier League footballers can fall over on cue, with deceptive intent and desperately predictable success, to win penalties.

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Blatter did not fully condemn Former Italy national coach Arrigo Sacchi

In condemning Chelsea-supporting racists on the Paris Métro, Blatter, in his must-read weekly column for Fifa’s magazine, suggested the intellect can help to “suppress gut feelings” of contempt for a fellow human being because of the colour of their skin.

Blatter duly compromised his criticism of former Italy manager Arrigo Sacchi, who suggested “there are too many players of colour” in Italian youth football, by insisting he did not want to “name and shame” someone he referred to only as the “former national coach”. Tellingly, he added: “I do not believe the unfortunate individual meant what he said.”

Really? When challenged about his original statement, Sacchi proclaimed “do you really think I’m racist?”, a question which merits a three-letter, one-word answer. “I just wanted to underline the fact that we’re losing our national pride and identity.” Following his warped logic, black people do not contribute to that pride and identity.

He found support, most notably from that dismal martinet Fabio Capello, who still gives FA accountants nightmares following his spell as England manager. He excelled himself by using a term with homophobic implications in his character reference for a long-term friend and rival.

Once again, we are confronted by contradiction. In football, luminaries say racist things, in that sour, haughty tone racists often favour when they are captured speaking carelessly. They are duly exonerated from racist intent.

Until and unless the guardians of the game’s conscience do their duty as concerned citizens and take unequivocal action against a societal problem – I would favour a life ban for anyone guilty of racist behaviour – these issues will fester. The portents are not encouraging.

The Premier League could pre-empt their latest windfall by providing proper funding for the Kick it Out anti-discrimination group, which, in Lord Herman Ouseley and Troy Townsend, have two of the most socially important figures in the game because of their principled stand against an insult to the human condition.

The Football Association could accelerate their six-month investigation into claims that Malky Mackay and Iain Moody, his former head of recruitment at Cardiff City, sent racist, sexist and homophobic messages.

Scottish football authorities could condemn the culture of sectarian chanting on both sides of the divide, following the launch of an official investigation into the conduct of Rangers fans at Raith Rovers on Friday.

No one is holding their breath. Yet ironically two of modern football’s less attractive traits, the increasing corporate influence and immediacy of access and comment provided by social media, promises to reduce their opportunity to prevaricate.

Chelsea officials were understandably repulsed, on a human level, by loathsome behaviour associated with the club. Their admirable response has the dual benefit of limiting the damage caused by a globally publicised incident to a brand they are attempting to market in all corners of the world.

It is doubtful that organisations like the United Nations would have got involved, had the scenes not been filmed on a mobile phone. As Blatter knows all too well, money is football’s driving philosophy. When racism threatens the bottom line, maybe something will be done.

Fighting a losing battle

It is being billed as boxing’s final superfight, the richest in history. Tickets are already being hawked online for upwards of £10,000. The usual suspects suggest it will generate £200m, a figure assured of inflation before they enter the ring on 2 May.

It has all the ingredients of a global event: an icon, unbeaten in 47 bouts, facing a champion at eight weights. It has the traditional setting, Las Vegas. It will be portrayed as the ultimate grudge match, five years in the making.

And therein lies the fatal flaw in the contest between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. They may retain a warrior spirit but they are in the equivalent of middle age. The contrast in styles may remain but reflexes have been dulled and durability has been compromised.

The boxers are products of vested interests and vicious in-fighting between promoters, sponsors, TV companies and governing bodies. They will extract their full worth to a sport in potentially terminal trouble.

UFC, slickly promoted violence which has mutated from mixed martial arts, has captured the key demographic – viewers between 18 and 25. They have never heard of boxing’s traditional meal tickets. The last hurrah is upon us.

KP’s sunshine bandwagon

In his Caribbean idyll, Kevin Pietersen will doubtlessly open a cold one and get ready to gloat at the prospect of further humiliation for England’s cricketers tonight against Scotland.

He remains a vain, self-deluding and ultimately sad character but an unworthy thought occurs: though he was wrong to throw Alastair Cook under the runaway bus of his rampant ego, Pietersen has been proved right about the management team of Peter Moores and Paul Downton. They are clueless, manifestly out of their depth.

Jay Beatty, you’re a hero

An unedifying week has been saved by Jay Beatty winning the SPFL Goal of the Month competition for January.

Watch the You Tube clip of the young Celtic fan, who has Down’s Syndrome, viewing the announcement of his victory. If your heart doesn’t melt, check your pulse.

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