Let’s be honest. We’ve all been outraged, appalled and ever-so-slightly amused by the delusional rubbish that Sepp Blatter regurgitates on a regular basis. One day he is a misogynistic pervert, suggesting that female footballers should ‘wear tighter shorts’, the next day he is an ignorant homophobe, advising that homosexuals visiting Qatar for the 2022 World Cup should ‘refrain from any sexual activities’. Of course, I don’t actually believe that he is either misogynistic or homophobic (after all, I don’t want to be sued for slander!). I believe he is simply the product of an older generation, with a cringe-worthy inability to think before he speaks. However, the can of worms has well and truly been opened with his latest gaffe, claiming that there is no on-the-pitch racism in football and any incidents should be settled by a handshake. With the pressure mounting on him to resign as Fifa president and his attempts to justify these comments bordering on pathetic, this surely is one gaffe that Blatter will never recover from.
Racism will always exist. Not just in football, but in everyday life. It’s one of the saddest aspects of freedom of speech. It doesn’t matter how many campaigns you launch, or how many measures you take to combat it, it will always be there. For Blatter to say that there is no racism in football would be like saying there is no sun in the sky. You may not always notice the sun, but it’s there and always will be. Racism may not always be on the forefront of people’s minds, but all it takes is for one human being to say something out of line and it becomes the centre of attention again.
Sadly, English football has recently had to deal with this issue once again, with Liverpool’s Luis Suarez being charged by the FA for comments made towards Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and John Terry still under investigation for making racist comments towards QPR’s Anton Ferdinand. Not since the 70s and 80s, when players such as John Barnes, Garth Crooks and Cyrille Regis were infamously subjected to racist chanting, monkey noises and banana throwing, has the issue of racism had to be dealt with on such a big scale in this country. It’s fair to say that racism in English football is still not as paramount as it was two to three decades ago, but these new incidents have reminded us all that discrimination still occurs.
And yet, the head of world football has astonishingly failed to recognise this. It’s bad enough that he does not acknowledge the existence of racism, but to think that players will actually respond to racist abuse with ‘a handshake’ is completely delusional. I struggle to think of any professional sportsman, let alone a footballer, who would respond to racist abuse in this way.
FIFA and the FA should be commended for the work that they have done to combat racism in football down the years. The campaigns that they have launched and the measures that they have taken to eradicate this abuse have made football a much more attractive game. Yet one can’t help but think all the good work that they have done may have just been made completely redundant by the absent-minded comments made by Blatter.
Much like all of his previous bloopers, Blatter may claim to have been mis-interpreted, but even if that is true, there is no room for complacency when it comes to this subject. It comes as no surprise that there are calls for his resignation, and whilst it is unlikely that he will resign, it’s fair to say that his words have undermined the integrity of the beautiful game and the people that fight to make it a sport for all walks of life.
Read more of Sam’s articles at http://diamondformation.wordpress.com/. Also follow him on Twitter: @DiamondFormat.
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