LONDON/ZURICH: FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes that deducting points from teams may be the only effective way to drive home the message that racism has no place in football.
Blatter was asked for his views about how the game should combat discrimination in an interview with Sky Sports News and amid continuing controversy over the incident in which Milan walked out of a friendly match in Italy in protest at racist abuse.
Is football doing enough to combat racism?
We can never do enough to eradicate all the evils in football. We have already tried.
You, in Great Britain, have given the the best example of how to eradicate violence – with modern stadia and education – and there is another problem we are tacking which is match fixing, where we cannot work without the support of the police and the political authorities.
A third problem is discrimination and racism [where] they take the platform of football to express that.
Racism and discrimination particularly, how can you eradicate that? It’s very difficult.
You have seen two cases last autumn: after one friendly match and one FIFA competitive match our disciplinary committee has given [both the Bulgarian and Hungarian federations] a sentence to play without spectators.
This is one of the solutions. A more radical solution would be the deduction of points. This will have a better impact than any other sanction. To have a match played without spectators is a warning for all the spectators.
Should there be heavier punishments for players who use racist language?
In football not only FIFA but the other organisers of competitions are aware now of this problem and it is up to the disciplinary committees to be very tough and intervene. They have to be tough. It’s not enough just to give a pecuniary sanction. That’s nothing.
Perhaps it’s not enough to have a match without spectators. The one thing is deduct points and those players who are convicted of discrimination and racism should be suspended more than one or two matches.
In normal employment you would at least be suspended or lose your job.
I hope that football can eradicate this racism and the punishment shall be there as a threat and then the first disciplinary committee that has the power and courage to do so will be an example.
How did you feel about being booed at Wembley at the Olympic Games?
It was just a very small booing and stars are always booed so I must be a star(!).
I thought that the public in the Olympic Games would be a little better educated than some of the fans in football because I’ve been received with a lot of applause especially in Newcastle – I was received there like a hero. As for Wembley, it was at the end of the match, it was not so important.
Considering that was the best-organised Olympic Games, maybe England should have the World Cup?
If England organised it then it would make something very exceptional because it’s the country where football has been organised and it is the homeland of football, of this beautiful game.
Through the Olympic they have shown the ability not only to organise the Olympic Games but how much football is appreciated and respected. I’ve never seen an Olympic Games with such huge interest for football.
On the subject of English football, has the Premier League grown too big?
Its not too big but what they done is an absolutely outstanding marketing of their product. It is premier! I can only congratulate them. I don’t think they are too global.
The only thing, in my opinion, is that if you compare with Spain and Italy and Germany you have, in the key positions in the Premier League clubs, too many foreigners and not enough English players so your national team is not yet at the level of these other teams I have mentioned.
If you look at Spain and Italy and Germany maybe 80pc or more of the players of the national team play in their own league so it is an influence of how many good players you have in your own league.
Will goal-line technology be used at the next World Cup?
We will use it for the Confederations Cup in June and then also for the World Cup.
We have systems which are working and are accurate and we cannot afford the same situation I personally witnessed in South Africa when [Frank] Lampard scored a goal and it was denied by the officials and the world has seen it.
Now we have a system to avoid that and, since we have a system which is accurate, we have to use it.
When you retire how would you like to be remembered?
When Einstein was asked that he said: ‘Once I’m not there I don’t mind what they think about me.’ But I would like that it will be remembered that FIFA has become a global player in the world – not only for some of the people but worldwide; that football brings emotions and that football is part of our society.
And what will you do when you have retired from FIFA?
I will live a dream I had when I was a young boy and started to work in media – I’m still a member of the international sportswriting association – I would like to make radio because people are listening, everywhere. Not commentary but the tactics, technique, analysis.
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