Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Sepp Blatter, left, presented Diego Maradona with his Joint-Player of the Century award in 2000. The Al Wasl coach does not think Blatter will step down, but says Fifa must take action ‘immediately against themselves as they are at fault’.
Sepp Blatter, left, presented Diego Maradona with his Joint-Player of the Century award in 2000. The Al Wasl coach does not think Blatter will step down, but says Fifa must take action ‘immediately against themselves as they are at fault’.

Blatter apologises but remains defiant

Fifa president retracts controversial remarks with regard to racism in football, which major figures, including Al Wasl coach Diego Maradona, have condemned.

DUBAI // Sepp Blatter apologised on Friday for his controversial statements regarding racism in football, but the Fifa president dismissed calls for him to resign despite increasing pressure from international sports figures.

Diego Maradona and David Beckham joined the chorus of voices condemning Blatter for comments he made in two interviews when he said that racism does not exist on the field and that any incidents can be settled with a handshake at the final whistle.

on Friday, in an interview with the BBC, Blatter said he was "hurting", adding: "I couldn't envisage such a reaction. When you have done something which was not totally correct, I can only say I am sorry for all those people affected by my declarations."

Maradona, voted Fifa's joint Player of the Century, with Pele, had earlier said he was not surprised by Blatter's controversial comments, but laughed at the suggestion the head of football's world governing body would step down.

"I don't believe it, really, but I know it's not the first time he's made a mistake, so it doesn't surprise me," said the Argentine, now the coach at the Dubai club, Al Wasl.

"Racism in sport is unacceptable. Blatter has to rectify the situation because the topic of racism is very dangerous and somebody as prominent as he is, is making those who love football look very bad in society.

"Blatter and Fifa need to take action on this immediately, but that also means they need to take action against themselves as they are at fault."

Beckham, the former England captain, had called Blatter's comments "appalling", adding: "I don't think the comments were very good for this game. [Racism] can't be swept under the carpet and it can't be sorted out with just a handshake."

But Blatter was defiant when pressed on whether he would stand down.

"I cannot resign," he said. "Why should I? When you are faced with a problem you have to face the problem. To leave would be totally unfair and not compatible with my fighting spirit, my character, my energy."

Neil Warnock, the coach at Queens Park Rangers, said the only way of forcing the 75-year-old Swiss to walk away would be for black players to refuse to play in the next round of international fixtures.

"Racism does happen on the field of play and the shaking of a hand just doesn't put it right," Warnock said. "But who is going to sack him? I don't see that anybody is going to sack him.

"The only way we could get him out of the situation that he is in, is if every black player in the country, in every country, refused to play in the next international game. That's the only way. Nothing else is going to get him out until he wants to go."

Tokyo Sexwale, the South African minister featured in a photo with Blatter when Fifa released a statement saying that the president's comments had been misunderstood, said he had spoken to Blatter since the interviews aired.

"It takes a big man to say 'I'm sorry'," Sexwale said. "In Fifa we kick the football and not the man."


””Follow The National Sport on @SprtNationalUAE & Gary Meenaghan on @GMeenaghan

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Glenn Maxwell's knock that followed ensured Brendon McCullum's knock went in vain after his explosive half-century took Chennai Super Kings past the 200-mark. Ravindranath K / The National

All is well with Punjab as Maxwell and Miller seal win against Chennai

The Australian missed out on a century but his 95 runs, along with Miller's unbeaten half-century, ensured Kings XI scaled a mighty peak of a target in a hot first game of Abu Dhabi's double-header.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet protests during the Premier League match against Crystal Palace at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland, northeast England, on March 15, 2014. Ian MacNicol / AFP

Sunderland going out of Premier League with a grumble

Northeast club have underwhelmed during seven-year stay in the top flight

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 At 105 kg, Gabrielle Garcia has dominated the world circuit and loves many things about being in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Garcia seeks fresh challenge in MMA after her jiu-jitsu domination

Brazilian prides being a lioness in the sport but feels she can shed 25kg weight to pursue her MMA debut aspirations.

 England's Jonathan Trott hits out during the ICC Champions Trophy semi final match against South Africa at The Oval cricket ground, London June 19, 2013. REUTERS/Philip Brown

England’s Jonathan Trott sidelined with stress-related illness again

Jonathan Trott is to take a second break from professional cricket because of his stress-related illness as England and Wales Cricket Board and Warwickshire confirmed he will stop playing with immediate effect.

 Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho looks on during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium on April 13, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

‘That’s why we are a top club’ says Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech

Jose Mourinho’s men will temporarily claim the Premier League top spot if they beat Sunderland, leaving them in control of their own destiny in the title race ahead of a crucial trip to face Liverpool at Anfield on April 27.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National