LONDON: Fifa president Sepp Blatter apologised for his ‘unfortunate comments’ on racism in the game but rejected calls to resign as head of the sport’s governing body.
Blatter’s initial comments, where he suggested that disputes on the pitch involving racist abuse should be resolved by a handshake, came after Liverpool’s Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez was charged by the English Football Association (FA) for allegedly racially abusing Manchester United’s French international defender Patrice Evra.
England captain John Terry is also facing a police and FA investigation over allegations he hurled racist abuse at QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.
Blatter’s remarks sparked a storm in England, where he was already unpopular for the way in which he and Fifa dealt with the country’s failed bid to stage the 2018 World Cup.
Players also criticised him, with former England captain David Beckham adding to the condemnation, although he stopped short of calling for Blatter to resign.
Blatter, however, was apologetic and regretted his remarks. “It hurts and I’m still hurting,” Blatter told the BBC. “I couldn’t envisage such a reaction.
“When you’ve done something which was not totally correct, I can only say I’m sorry for all those people affected by my declarations.”
But when asked about calls that he should quit for his remarks, he refused. “I cannot resign. Why should I?
“When you’re faced with a problem you have to face the problem. To leave would be totally unfair and not compatible with my fighting spirit.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2011.