The anti-racism campaign believes the comments by Blatter on racism in football have made his position untenable
Show Racism the Red Card Chief Executive, Ged Grebby said “For the head of football’s world governing body to say that there is no racism in the game is an unbelievably ignorant statement and potentially undermines the progress football has made in tackling racism. We are therefore calling on him to resign as he is out of touch with what is happening in world football.”
“His advice on dealing with racism on the pitch was also a disgrace and is completely contrary to the advice of football associations and anti-racism campaigns. To suggest that someone who has been racially abused should then go and shake hands with the abuser is hugely damaging to FIFA’s credibility on this issue.”
“If we start excusing racism, we risk losing the valuable ground that has been gained,” Grebby said. “The message needs to remain loud and clear that racism is never acceptable.”
Show Racism the Red Card is not alone in seeking Sepp Blatter’s resignation on this issue, there is a growing demand both in football and in wider society for this to happen.
There have been several high profile allegations of racism within football recently. Many of these investigations are ongoing and we are not in a position to know whether the accused are guilty of the offences. However, there has been a lot of unhelpful commentary on the alleged incidents which appear to condone or excuse racist language and behaviour. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has spoken to CNN World suggesting that racism between players is 'part of the game' and that it can simply be resolved with a handshake. Show Racism the Red Card strongly condemns Sepp Blatter's statements.
"What happens on the pitch stays on the pitch" - No it doesn't. Football is the most popular sport in the world and is watched by millions of people. Footballers do not have carte-blanche to abuse each other in whatever ways they see fit. Many young people are forced out of grass-roots football because of racist abuse and if we allow people to use racist language on the pitch then what is to stop it from spilling over into other aspects of their lives, affecting their opinions and interactions with others?
"The comment is not that bad and does no harm" - Using someone's skin colour or ethnicity as an insult has a deeper effect. It implies that it is negative to be of that background and attacks something which is intrinsic to that person. It is an attack not just on the individual, but on other members of their family, community or group. When high-profile people act in this way it gives licence for others to copy-cat and creates a society where that behaviour is deemed acceptable. If we don't challenge racist language and insults, we are paving the way for some people to go on to commit more serious incidents of hate-crime. People who commit acts of hate crime believe that they are acting on behalf of and with the support of their community; it is up to all of us to demonstrate that this behaviour is unacceptable and not supported.
"He meant nothing by it. It was just said in the heat of the moment" - We have all had times where we are under pressure or angry and say things that we regret, that doesn’t make them excusable. Even if someone did not deliberately intend to cause harm, this doesn’t affect the outcome.
"I know him and he's not a racist" - The issue is the behaviour, not the person. He may not be a racist, but the behaviour is racist and needs to be dealt with.