Honorary patron Les Ferdinand: "Sepp Blatter has put his foot in it again"
Pictured: John Bereford, Olivier Bernard, Les Ferdinand and Ged Grebby
Show Racism the Red Card's Honorary patron and Hall of Fame member Les Ferdinand has spoken for an article in the Daily Mail on Sepp Blatter and his recent claim that there is no racism in football:
Sepp Blatter has put his foot in it again with his ridiculous claim that there is no racism in football, and that players who are abused on the field should just put up with it and shake hands with the racists at the end of a game.
His disgraceful comments and the weak-willed actions of FIFA and UEFA when faced with racist incidents say it all about their attitude.
They don't know what racism is, and the reason they don't understand it is that Blatter and his ilk have never suffered from it, and nor have their families.
Not that the authorities here are much better. Despite all the talk of eliminating racism from English football, it is still a big issue here.
Racism is a major problem in our society, and football is in a powerful position to do something about it. But I don't think the authorities have taken a strong enough stance.
When monkey chants were aimed at our black players during England's game in Spain a few years back, UEFA fined the Spanish FA 3,000 Euros . That was meaningless enough. But what did our FA do? We accepted it.
There was no outrage, no demand for real action. They talk about kicking racism out of football but if they really want to eliminate it, why are there no strong deterrents?
If a country's fans dish out racist abuse, suspend them from international competition or throw them out of tournaments. That would force their authorities to act.
And firm action needs to be taken against racist players. If a player misses a drugs test, he is liable for a seven-month ban, which is effectively a season out of his career. That makes others think twice - a real deterrent.
So why not apply that to players who use racist abuse? If they want people to believe they are taking the issue seriously, they need to make examples of one or two players, with similarly stiff suspensions to make others think twice.
And it is no use saying, as Blatter and others have said, that these things are said in the heat of the moment. That is no excuse in law, and it should not be on the football pitch either.
The blatant racism that used to exist in football is not so bad now, but you still feel it is under the surface.
You may not hear the same level of racial abuse now, but I think it is because people are trying to be politically correct, not that they have seen the light. I used to get terrible racist abuse at certain grounds, and you cannot tell me that all those fans have either gone away or changed their minds.
Racism is a widespread problem in society and football should be taking the lead against it by having more black coaches, managers and administrators at all levels.
Sadly, Blatter's comments show that people in positions of power in football would rather bury their heads in the sand. They are in denial, and despite all the positive talk about moves to combat racism, it looks like window dressing to me.
The full article in the Daily Mail Online can be found here.