Sepp Blatter says sorry for racism remarks

 

FIFA president Sepp Blatter today said he "deeply regretted" his comments about racism in football and issued an apology - but was adamant he would not resign.

The 75-year-old backtracked on remarks made in interviews earlier this week that incidents of racist abuse on the pitch should be settled by a handshake between the players concerned.

Prime Minister David Cameron led the calls for Blatter to step down, and the FIFA president admitted today that his comments had caused a "serious incident" and that he had used "unfortunate words" which he "deeply regretted".

Blatter told BBC Sport: "When you have done something which was absolutely not totally correct, I can only say I am sorry for all those people affected by my declarations.

"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 will not stop until I have stamped out racism in football."

Blatter was adamant however, that he would not resign over the comments.

He said: "I cannot resign. Why should I?

"When you are faced with a problem you have to solve the problem. To leave the organisation this would be totally unfair and is not compatible with my fighting spirit, my character, my energy and my personal commitment to football."

Blatter now says any players found guilty of racism on the pitch should be thrown out of the game.

"Zero tolerance," he said.

"This was a good lesson for me as well.

It should be and it shall be zero tolerance."

The controversy has seen Blatter become embroiled in a Twitter row with Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand, and the FIFA president said he had hoped for "a little bit better more understanding from star players" because of their record in tackling racism.

Tokyo Sexwale, the South African minister who was included in a photo with Blatter when FIFA put out an initial statement on Wednesday night saying the Swiss' comments had been misunderstood, told a press conference that Blatter had made an "unfortunate mistake" but had a long pedigree of working against racism.

He said: "We should distinguish racial remarks from other things. If you use a racial slur it won't go away, you cannot exchange a jersey, you can't mitigate it with a handshake, that's why we call for action to be taken against players.

"We should differentiate between racial remarks and remarks when players are fighting for the ball.

"I think what Mr Blatter was saying, he mixed up those emotions and was trying to say 'look, let's get on with the game'. It was an unfortunate mistake."

Ferdinand's former United team-mate David Beckham joined in the condemnation of Blatter's initial comments, calling them "appalling" and adding: "(Racism) can't be swept under the carpet, it can't be sorted out with a handshake.

"That's not the way of the world and that's not how racism should be treated."

FA chairman David Bernstein said Blatter's apology was "necessary" and that his initial comments were "irresponsible".

Bernstein said: "All forms of discrimination should be reported and it is our responsibility to investigate these fully. A handshake at the end of the game does not draw a line under racial abuse during a match.

"Mr Blatter has made it clear he will not resign but his apology today was necessary. His initial comments were wrong and irresponsible.

"As I have said many times in the past, with power comes responsibility and I - with others in prominent positions in the game have to make sure we live up to the values of which we speak.

"I am mindful that - this week's comments aside - FIFA as an organisation does much good work around the world. The organisation has made great strides in fighting racism as have many national football federations.

"I would like to take this opportunity to stress that The FA remains strongly committed to diversity, equal opportunities for all and anti-discrimination."

PA

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss