Blatter defends himself in the face of criticism

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has once more defended his comments over the race row in football, and reiterated his desire to battle the problem in the game.

The governing body’s chief has been slated after stating that racist comments could be forgiven at the end of a match if the players shook hands, but again has insisted that racism in sport or society is unacceptable.

“I can tell you that since I have been working with FIFA, which is now virtually 37 years, my first international operation was in Africa, it was in February ’76,” he told Fox Soccer.

“Then I realised, first of all what football means in Africa, but I have also realised what it means to discriminate or be racist.

“I can tell you that in all of my life in football, it has been accompanied by fighting discrimination and fighting racism.

“I thought, and I am still a very optimistic man, that after the World Cup in South Africa, which was about connecting all the different people and races in the country and bringing them together through football, that this is over. But where there are human beings there is some movement and we can never stop to go against racism and discrimination.

“We should also be a little bit, in a sporting spirit, when there is something happening on the field of play during a match between two football players – I call it foul language, I’m not talking about discrimination – at the end of the match if you have had foul play, the match is over and you shake hands because that’s what you want to do at the start of the match and at the end of the match. You should forget what happened on the field of play.

“Having said that, I go on with all of my determination and energy to go against all discrimination and racism,” he concluded.

By Gareth McKnight