Sepp Blatter Condemned For Saying There Is 'No Racism' In Football
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has been engulfed in a row after he said there was " no racism" in football.
Asked during an interview with CNN whether it was a problem in the game he said: "I would deny it. There is no racism."
"Maybe one of the players has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one, but the one who is effected by that, he should say that 'this is a game," he said.
"We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.
"I think the whole world is aware of the efforts we are making against racism and discrimination. And, on the field of play sometimes you say something that is not very correct, but then at the end of the game, the game is over and you have the next game where you can behave better."
His remarks caused an immediate uproar, including from England footballer Rio Ferdinand who described them as "so condescending its almost laughable".
"If fans shout racist chants but shake our hands is that ok?" he asked Blatter on Twitter.
Following a public outcry Blatter said he had been "misunderstood" and was committed to tackling racism in the game.
"I would like to make it very clear, I am committed to the fight against racism and any type of discrimination in football and in society," he said in a statement. "I have been personally leading this battle against racism in football, which FIFA has been fighting against throughout the past years through campaigns in all of our competitions such as the 'Say no to racism' campaign.
"I also know that racism unfortunately continues to exist in football, and I have never denied this. I know that it is a big problem in society, and that it also affects sport. I strongly believe that we should continue to fight all together against racism on and off the field of play, in order to eradicate this plague."
He added: "My comments have been misunderstood. What I wanted to express is that, as football players, during a match, you have "battles" with your opponents, and sometimes things are done which are wrong.
"But, normally, at the end of the match, you apologise to your opponent if you had a confrontation during the match, you shake hands, and when the game is over, it is over. Anyone who has played a football match, or a match in any sport, knows that this is the case.
"Having said that, I want to stress again that I do not want to diminish the dimension of the problem of racism in society and in sport. I am committed to fighting this plague and kicking it out of football."
However the Fifa president's attempt to walk back his initial comments attracted ridicule from many as his statement was accompanied with a picture of him standing with a black man.
Blatter's comments are particuarly ill-timed as they came moments before the English FA announced it would charge Liverpool striker Luis Suarez with racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
While England captain John Terry is also under investigation as to whether he racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, Rio's brother, during a game.
It is not the first time the Fifa president has gotten himself in to trouble by making controversial remarks.
After Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup Blatter said gay fans should "should refrain from any sexual activities" when visiting the country as homosexuality is illegal there.
In 2004, he suggested women wear "tighter shorts" to increase the popularity of women's football.