FARE welcomes Blatter comments

  • Last Updated: January 20 2013, 15:28 GMT

FIFA president Sepp Blatter's apparent tougher line on racism has been given a cautious welcome by a leading anti-discrimination campaigner - but the Swiss has been told his proposed punishments still do not go far enough.

Sepp Blatter: Wants severe sanctions for racist offences
Sepp Blatter: Wants severe sanctions for racist offences

Blatter, 76, who has been criticised in the past for some of his comments regarding the issue of discrimination in the game, took to Twitter to say financial sanctions were not sufficient to tackle the problem and appeared to instead favour points deductions and relegations.

In comments on his official Twitter account, Blatter said: "Sanctions against discriminatory acts must be very severe. We will discuss this at next Strategic Committee in 3 weeks. Deduction of points/team relegation. Financial sanctions: not efficient. Matches behind closed doors: not good solution."

Piara Powar, the executive director of the FARE network which works in over 40 countries to tackle discrimination and social exclusion, said any steps towards tougher sanctions were welcome.

Powar said: "We welcome any suggestion that the rules of football will be applied more stringently and governing bodies at all levels forced to recognise their responsibilities. There has been enough talking without decisive action.

"But that is not enough, education and awareness-raising must be at the centre of action. We cannot allow a feeling to develop where people think sanctions to deal with discrimination are about top-down political correctness."

Blatter courted controversy in November 2011 when he claimed racism did not exist in football and that, if any such issues did arise, they could be solved with a simple handshake.

And he was also criticised last month when he said AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng was wrong to respond to racist abuse during a friendly against Pro Patria by leaving the field.

But the Swiss does now appear to be taking the issue more seriously and he said in December that he intended to meet with his UEFA counterpart Michel Platini to discuss the sanctions handed to the Serbian federation following incidences of racist abuse by supporters during a match against England Under-21s in October.

On December 13, UEFA's control and disciplinary body imposed an 80,000 euro (£65,000) fine and ordered the Serbian Under-21 side to play one match behind closed doors in relation to the racist abuse, but UEFA has subsequently appealed against the leniency of those sanctions.


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