Blatter: We'll be very tough on racism
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has reiterated his determination to bring in more severe punishments for racist behaviour.
Blatter declared at the start of this year that he did not believe fines and matches behind closed doors were an effective solution and floated the possibility of relegation and point deductions for those found guilty.
Speaking at the Football Association's 150th anniversary gala in London, Blatter has now said: “It has been decided by the FIFA congress that it is a nonsense for racism to be dealt with with fines -- you can always find money from somebody to pay them.
“It is a nonsense to have matches played without spectators because it is against the spirit of football and against the visiting team. It is all nonsense.”
In April, Blatter had revealed he was concerned that the prospect of point deductions and relegation could encourage fans to attend their rivals’ games to cause trouble and provoke sanctions, but he now appears to be in favour of such punishments once more.
“What we shall do is be very tough -- we need to eliminate teams from a competition or deduct points,” he said. “Only by such decisions is it possible to go against racism and discrimination. If we don't do that it will go on and go on. We have to stop it -- we need the courage to do it.
“We can do something better to fight racism and discrimination. This is one of the villains we have today in our game but I'm sure, with the combined efforts of everybody we can go on, but it is only with harsh sanctions that racism and discrimination can be washed out of football.”
Racism has been in the spotlight this week, with CSKA Moscow supporters accused of abusing Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure during the English club’s 2-1 victory in Russia.
Toure has urged UEFA to punish CSKA and said black players could refuse to participate at the 2018 World Cup in Russia unless the issue is tackled.
Piara Power, executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe, was also present at the FA gala and he said such a boycott would mean the tournament could not go ahead.
“I think that if the players of African origin should decide to boycott the World Cup, European Championships or any other tournament there won't be a tournament because of the numbers [who would be absent],” he said. “I can understand Yaya Toure's sense that something needs to be done urgently. There is a lot of work to be done.”
Toure also angrily dismissed CSKA’s suggestion that there had been no racial abuse during the match, and Power added: “On the issue of denial I would say that there isn't a player that I have ever known who makes these things up.
“There is a common pattern in these scenarios: teams, clubs and institutions feel under pressure and their first recourse is to deny it. I don't think it is particularly commendable but that is part of the education we need to do.”
Information from the Press Association was used in this report