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Shocker – Sepp Blatter backtracks on sanctions for racism

Apr 5, 2013, 10:52 AM EDT

FIFA President Sepp Blatter makes a speech during the "Sports, Business and Ethics - a Situation Analysis" congress in Zurich

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has softened his stance on eradicating racism from world football by punishing teams with relegation and points deductions. At an event in Zurich on Friday, the 77-year-old Swiss explained his worries that such measures could encourage fans to deliberately try and get matches stopped.

“Where does it end?” Blatter asked. “How far can we go? To what extent can we expect that a game is stopped, by players walking off the field?

“Can we stop it by deducting points or by relegating a team? Or will this lead to persons coming to the stadium wanting to stop the game intentionally?” Later, Blatter elaborated on his comments to reporters: “We have to do something but the danger is if we say the match will be replayed, or there will be a deduction of points or whatever, this can open the door for groups of hooligans to create these problems.”

Blatter’s reduced stance, while infuriating, is hardly surprising and only underscores how out of touch he is with the modern game and the culture that surrounds it. Yes, his ignorance is outlandish. Heck, it was only two years ago when Blatter stated that there was no problem with racism in football and those targeted should just “shake hands”. So maybe we should be giving the dinosaur more credit for how far he’s come.

Yeah, right.

When it comes to the issue of racism in football, Blatter needs to quit moving at a snail’s pace. We’ve seen him slow play a number of important issues – from World Cup construction concerns to the implementation of goal-line technology. But sanctions like points deductions and relegation for fans guilty of racism should have been in place months, nay, years ago. Fining clubs and banning fans from stadiums were good initial measures but they clearly haven’t cured the problem. In fact it only seems to have gotten worse.

Blatter’s backtracking on points deductions and relegation is as worrisome as it is ridiculous. The thought that such sanctions could spark fans into intentionally disrupting matches makes little sense. Sure, it could happen. And now that Blatter has floated the idea out there it’s probably more likely to occur (well done, Pres). But the potential positives to come from such sanctions – mainly, putting an end to supporters racial abusing players – far outweigh the potential negatives.

  1. bigdinla - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    You can NOT legislate decency. That is one of the huge problems in the USA. Political correctness is not they way to end racism. Actually it tends to strengthen the people that cling to their insular opinions. Punishing teams because their fans are idiots is simply ridiculous and pointless. Racism is ignorant, but education not legislation is how you irradicate racism. By education, I do not mean sensitivity training or multi cultural training. I mean straight education. The higher the education level the lower the racism.

  2. iamapatsfan - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    Blatter’s backtracking on points deductions and relegation is as worrisome as it is ridiculous. The thought that such sanctions could spark fans into intentionally disrupting matches makes little sense.

    Have you seen the internet lately? There are trolls for everything. Anything that is an opinion has 3 or 4 trolls yelling the opposite loudly just because. How can you think that this makes little sense. You don’t think a set of Man City/ManU fans wouldn’t happily jump into the other team’s jersey and yell racist chants until they get kicked out in order to try and get the other team to lose points? You have no understanding of humanity.

    The only hope that we would have is that this would become self-policed almost. As in fans may start chanting racial slurs and the other fans around them would shout (beat?) them down so their team doesn’t lose the points.

    I agree with you. This needs to happen, but I fully expect people to be racist on purpose at games in the beginning to try and force the other team to lose points, until they realize it won’t work. Or more scarily, it does, because FIFA doesn’t investigate properly. Nightmare scenario, which is why he’s backing off. He’s seeing the absolute worse case scenario without the middle ground that will hopefully happen. The one where it may get a little worse immediately after, but will hopefully clean up once fans realize it doesn’t work.

  3. ntg98 - Apr 5, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    Enough. Please. I come here to read about soccer, and everyday when I check the stories I see a smattering of political correct whining, as if the writers here are trying to overcorrect for their own inherent racism or homophobia or something.

    This isn’t a progressivism blog. One story every once in a while is alright maybe, but between this and Florio, I feel like I’m getting a morality lecture every time I check my sports updates. That’s not how it should feel. I come to read about two sports I love.

    I’ve had to deal with racism and prejudice. People hate on me. I think gays should marry. But people who think homosexuality is a little queer aren’t ‘full of hate’. They’re just not. That’s like 5% of them, and either way, THIS IS A SOCCER BLOG.

    So I’d rather not have journalists lecture me on morals. I come here to get away from that stuff. So please get off your soapboxes and talk more about FC Dallas.

    • charliej11 - Apr 5, 2013 at 6:03 PM

      Uh yeah, this is a soccer blog and the world seems to have a racism problem. At knitting gatherings ? no. At the library? no….At soccer games ? There you go.

      I agree with the more stories about FC Dallas, but other sites are more American focused. This one is more world focused and much of that world are idiots. Complete morons.

      And no one is lecturing you…unless you are one of the complete morons.

      • ntg98 - Apr 6, 2013 at 3:01 AM

        I’m never going to argue with the notion that most of the world is comprised of idiots.

        I’m more just tired of all the journalists and their self-righteous attitudes towards progressivist issues. The same people who are crying over every civil rights misdemeanor, the same people who take every possible opportunity to slip in a morally relativistic comment slyly… Where were those people just five years ago when it wasn’t “cool” to stick up for gays? Just today Target got lambasted because they named a color “manatee grey” and then put it on a plus-size dress. So now we have to worry about: race, sex, gender, ethnicity, orientation, age, class, religion, and now size?

        And maybe I’m posting here because I know the soccer guys actually read these comments. Florio used to reply to me back when PFT was his side job, but I haven’t gotten that special treatment in a long time.

        Back in the day, journalists kept personal opinions out of stories. But now it’s just blatant. Everybody yells and gets offended and cries racism and declares that people are bigots or hateful or whatever. If I want to read leftist political complaining, I’ll go to Huffpost or something. Maybe the NBC sports bloggers should write there on the side.

        Look: people are going to hate. I went to a school where everyone was upper middle class, white, moderately intelligent, straight, right-wing, and Christian, and then they decided to form frats and sororities so they could hate on each other. They didn’t have any of the classic differences, so they made up some new ones so they could divide themselves.

        I come here to read about soccer. Specifically MLS, and more specifically FC Dallas, which while we’re on the topic, was featured way too low in the last power rankings. Number 5- are you kidding me? The top team is #5?

    • forked - Apr 6, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      +1. Except for the part about FC Dallas. Go Sounders.

    • scoocha - Apr 6, 2013 at 3:50 PM

      I’m intrigued – can you give a brief example of what Florio does to annoy you? I have no idea and I’m just wondering. No sarcasm here.

      • ntg98 - Apr 6, 2013 at 9:07 PM

        I generally like Florio, just like I generally like the soccertalk guys.

        What I don’t like is whenever they make moral judgment calls or, in florio’s case, snide political remarks (he wrote a post endorsing Obama like 5 years ago).

        So to answer your question- not much. I can find excerpts if you want, but I generally find Mike Florio witty and entertaining. It’s mostly PST and their over-the-top progressivism-centered remarks that annoy me if I’m being honest, although Florio does throw one in every now and then.

      • scoocha - Apr 18, 2013 at 1:01 PM

        Ah, yeah that all makes sense. I have seen that on a occasion. You have to remember that he is on NBC and is required to have a leftist slant to the world/politics.

        Thanks for the response.

  4. crankyfrankie - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    If your idea of a fun time is to go to a game and yell racist and/or homophobic chants you should stay home. If a team can not make their home field environment safe for all players then they should be penalized. When it impacts the teams wallet they’ll do something. Yes there should be sanctions and penalties for hooliganism because otherwise teams will do nothing until they are forced to.

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