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

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'