Racism social not football problem, says Blatter

TOKYO Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:54pm IST

FIFA President Sepp Blatter speaks during a news conference following their executive committee meeting in Tokyo December 15, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

FIFA President Sepp Blatter speaks during a news conference following their executive committee meeting in Tokyo December 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes that completely ridding soccer of racism will be impossible while it remains a problem in society as a whole.

Blatter said on Saturday that he would speak to UEFA boss Michel Platini over the level of fine dished out to Serbia for incidents at an Under-21 match against England in October.

"I will take the discussion up with the president of UEFA," Blatter told reporters after FIFA's executive committee meeting in Tokyo on the sidelines of the Club World Cup."

European soccer's governing body UEFA have said they may appeal the punishment of a 80,000 euro fine handed out by its own disciplinary committee to Serbia.

Platini is also in Japan for the tournament.

"I don't know if he has an influence on his disciplinary committee," added Blatter. "Definitely FIFA's stance is zero tolerance for discrimination and racism.

"We must be very, very strong about discrimination and racism in football."

The English FA criticised UEFA for not sending a strong enough message on racism with the level of the fine for Serbia after the ugly scenes in Krusevac.

The sanction was 20,000 euros less than UEFA fined Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner at Euro 2012 for showing the logo of a betting company on his underpants while celebrating a goal.

"Racism and discrimination exists in football," said Blatter. "But it comes not from football, it comes from our society. It is a question of solidarity and of education."

Blatter acknowledged a lack of education meant that eradicating the scourge of racism from football grounds was problematic.

"You cannot educate everybody to be fair. It's so easy to say that football is discipline, respect and fair play. That's easy to say but not so easy to apply."

The Serbian FA (FSS) was also told to stage its next Under-21 home match behind closed doors after players and fans were found guilty of improper conduct in England's 1-0 win.

Several prominent black players in England, including Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, have boycotted the Premier League "Kick it Out" campaign.

The players have been unhappy at a perceived lack of response over recent high-profile racist abuse cases.

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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