Racism is 'a devil' says FIFA chief Blatter

LONDON Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:41am IST

FIFA President Sepp Blatter gestures during a news conference at the Geneva Press Club in Geneva October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Files

FIFA President Sepp Blatter gestures during a news conference at the Geneva Press Club in Geneva October 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter has described racism in football as "a devil" a year after sparking outrage with controversial remarks that appeared to play down the problem.

The Swiss was widely criticised in Britain last November when in an interview with CNN he denied there was racism in the sport and said any incidents could be settled by a handshake.

Blatter issued a statement clarifying his remarks shortly afterwards following criticism from the likes of former England captain David Beckham and defender Rio Ferdinand.

In an interview with the London Evening Standard on Tuesday, he again underlined his stance on racism, saying a simple handshake was not enough.

"What you can do by a handshake is try to make peace," Blatter was quoted as saying.

"You cannot eradicate racism by a handshake. To eradicate this devil is an educational problem.

"The problem is, if the school is not educating, if the family is no longer educating, sport must educate.

"But sport cannot do everything."

TOO LONG

Racism has been under the spotlight in Britain in the past year with Liverpool's Uruguay forward Luis Suarez having served an eight-match FA ban for racially abusing Manchester United's France defender Patrice Evra.

Chelsea captain John Terry was given a four-match ban by the FA for racially insulting Queen Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand although he was cleared of racism in the lawcourts in July after the saga had dragged on for a year.

Blatter said the whole process had taken too long.

"The John Terry affair should have been handled much quicker," Blatter said. "Such matters should be dealt with as soon as possible, especially when players are concerned. Our sports authorities should deal with these matters directly.

"If afterwards the political authorities also intervene because they think it a very important case, that is up to them.

"But to wait until the political authorities intervene and then take a decision on the sporting side, this is not the right procedure." (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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