Posted November 17, 2011 on AP on Fox
PLAYERS: Sepp Blatter
''Resign!'' howled Sepp Blatter's critics in England after the FIFA boss spouted ill-timed and offensive views on racism in soccer. Easy. Too easy. It's the sort of thing many people would agree with. But simply saying something is unpleasant doesn't make it go away. That takes action. And, in that regard, soccer has failed. Miserably. It is soccer's own fault that Blatter is still in charge, still able to dismay and infuriate from FIFA's glass fortress in Switzerland. Those who run the global game, the soccer federation officials around the world who, ultimately, are Blatter's electorate, have had umpteen reasons to ditch him or call for his head before this latest episode. But they've stuck by him. So they shoulder responsibility for giving a platform to his views, too. Remember: FIFA member countries awarded Blatter a fourth four-year term just five months ago despite bribery allegations, ugly internal politicking and match-fixing and corruption cases in the sport that have shredded the credibility of soccer's governing body and the men who lead it. Not only did the fawning FIFA congress allow Blatter to stand unopposed, it gave him 91 percent of the vote. The regime in North Korea couldn't have done much better. There are no courageous rebels leading an Arab Spring uprising in soccer and none on the horizon, either. Why? One reason is money. Under Blatter, FIFA has raked in mounds of the stuff. It has built financial reserves of more than $1 billion. It has the cash-cow World Cup. It sits atop a giant of a sport that is still growing in popularity, especially in promising markets in Asia and the Middle East. One of Blatter's tricks during his nearly 14 years as FIFA president has been to ensure that gravy is spread around. Tens of millions of dollars in soccer development money doled out here, special $550,000 bonuses for all FIFA member associations in 2010 there. Seats on FIFA committees for the favored. The former amateur soccer player is also a proven master of keeping friends and enemies close. It is a testimony to Blatter's power, to his people and management skills, and to inertia and acceptance within soccer that even at the end of this year of atrocious headlines for FIFA, there appears to be so little appetite at the top of the sport to question Blatter's leadership or methods. Clearly, judging from his subsequent efforts to extract both feet from his mouth, Blatter realized that he wasn't clever to say this week in television interviews that racism isn't an issue on soccer fields. Even worse, he suggested that players who are victims of racist slurs should simply shake hands with and forgive their abusers at the end of a match. That Blatter could blithely voice such absurdities when police and soccer officials in England are investigating two cases of on-field alleged racist abuse between players in the Premier League made the FIFA president look willfully insensitive and hopelessly out of touch. When Blatter later backtracked with a statement acknowledging that ''racism unfortunately continues to exist in football,'' FIFA's website published it with a 2009 photo of him embracing Tokyo Sexwale, a South African government minister and former Robben Island prisoner. How clumsy. All that was missing was a caption reading, ''Look, Blatter likes black people and they like him!'' But where was the subsequent outpouring of shock and anger from the global game? Didn't happen. Soccer federations around the world were hardly lining up to distance themselves from Blatter. Aside from Britain, where Sports Minister Hugh Robertson declared, ''For the sake of the game, he should go,'' the FIFA president's comments didn't seem to cause much of a ripple from soccer authorities. Many said nothing. Blatter hasn't seen a need to step aside over any of the numerous corruption allegations that have undermined faith in FIFA and his leadership. He didn't see fit to slink off for calling on female soccer players to wear ''tighter shorts'' in 2004 or for making light of the strict laws against homosexuality in Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host. He's not going to resign now. Of course, the great global game of soccer should have a forward-looking, scrupulously honest, modern, transparent, humble, open and intelligent leader. It has Blatter. Who's fault is that? The easy route is to say he should go. The more constructive one would be if those with power in soccer actually did something about it. --- John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at) or follow him at

Selection of notable quotes from Sepp Blatter

A selection of notable quotes by FIFA President Sepp Blatter: --- ''On the field of play, I deny that there is racism. If you had a confrontation during the match, you shake hands, and when the game is over, it is over.'' - Blatter in television interview Wednesday on racism in football. --- ''I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities...

FIFA chief Blatter urged to stand down

UK Sports Minister Hugh Robertson and Professional Footballers' Association chief Gordon Taylor have led the calls for Sepp Blatter to resign in the wake of the FIFA president's controversial comments on racism. Blatter whipped up a storm on Wednesday by claiming that racism in football does not exist, and that any altercations on the pitch where racist language is used...

Sepp Blatter's claims provoke outrage

FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Wednesday night provoked a furious backlash after claiming racist abuse between players on the pitch should be settled by a handshake. On a day when the Football Association charged Liverpool's Luis Suarez with racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra, and with a racism investigation against John Terry still going on, in two television...

Blatter facing calls to resign after comments

A British government minister has called on FIFA President Sepp Blatter to resign following his comments downplaying racism in soccer.

Warnock calls for Blatter´s head

QPR manager Neil Warnock has slammed FIFA president Sepp Blatter over comments in relation to the row surrounding racism in...

FIFA president Blatter downplays soccer racism

With several top soccer players facing allegations they made racially abusive comments at opponents on the field, FIFA President Sepp Blatter sparked an angry reaction on Wednesday by suggesting such incidents could settled with handshakes.

Anti-racism organization Kick It Out dubs FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s comments ‘worryingly out of touch’ (

The campaign which strives for equality in soccer has condemned the 75-year-old's comments, after he suggested that racial discrimination should be resolved with a handshake

Blatter faces calls to resign in racism furor

With his organization still reeling from corruption allegations, FIFA President Sepp Blatter faced calls for his resignation Thursday after saying that racial abuse on the soccer field could be settled by a handshake and quickly forgotten.

British minister: Sepp Blatter 'should go'

A British government minister has called on FIFA President Sepp Blatter to resign following his comments downplaying racism in soccer.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter apologizes but insists that he won't resign amid racism controversy (

The Swiss vows to continue his fight to beat racism in the game and once again expressed his regret and sorrow that his remarks caused problems.

FIFA leader Blatter: 'Sorry' for racism remarks

Trying to stem the uproar caused by his comments on racism, FIFA President Sepp Blatter expressed regret Friday for causing offense to anyone but stopped short of a full apology and rejected calls to resign.

Britain up in arms, rest of world says little

LONDON (AP) -For two days, Britain has been up in arms over Sepp Blatter.

Beckham blasts Blatter

David Beckham has blasted FIFA president Sepp Blatter for his recent comments on racism within football. Beckham, 36, has won...
Soccer News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.