Sepp Blatter incited an international firestorm insensitive, patronizing comments about racism in soccer. Many media members, particularly in England, have been fulminating against the FIFA president, calling for his resignation.
On-pitch racism has been a thorny issue in English soccer recently, with high-profile incidents involving stars John Terry and Luis Suarez allegedly abusing black players. Blatter, in interviews with CNN and Al Jazeera, said there was “no racism” in soccer and that victims of foul language or gestures on the pitch should remember “this is a game” and resolve things with a “post-game handshake.”
“Maybe one of the players has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one, but the one who is effected by that, he should say that ‘this is a game’.
“We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.
Blatter later clarified his comments on FIFA’s website. Unfortunately, said clarifications rang hallow as FIFA deliberately accompanied them with a “coincidental” photo of Blatter embracing a black man, South African politician and anti-Apartheid activist Tokyo Sexwale.
The comments were objectionable, but were also classic Blatter: take what might have been a valid point and, through a combination of second-language deafness and being an outright buffoon, present it in the most indelicate manner possible. Women’s soccer doing a better job marketing itself becomes women should wear tighter shorts. FIFA prioritizing its mandate to address racism on a broader scale, rather than a few high-profile incidents leagues can deal with becomes “there is no racism” and things can be settled “with a handshake.”
Should Blatter resign? Absolutely. The reason, however, should be his decades spent fostering a flagrant den of graft and corruption, not yet another of his thoughtless comments.