Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was left ‘astonished’ by Sep Blatter’s comments on racism in football yesterday.
The Fifa president suggested that issues of racism on the pitch could be settled with a handshake, putting such incidents down to the heat of the moment.
Reacting to this, Ferdinand tweeted: “Tell me I have just read Blatter’s comments wrong… if not then I am astonished.”
“I feel stupid for thinking that football was taking a leading role against racism – it seems it was just on mute for a while.”
He then sent a message directly to Blatter: “Your comments on racism are so condescending it’s almost laughable. If fans shout racist chants but shake our hands is that OK?”
Racism in football is obviously very topical in England right now, with national skipper John Terry at the centre of an investigation and Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has been charged by the Football Association for comments made to Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
In terms of what Blatter actually said, he suggested that he would ‘deny’ racism is rife in football, even going as far to say that ‘there is no racism’ in football.
Ferdinand wasn’t the only person to criticise the 75-year-old either. Blackburn striker Jason Roberts said: “To say I was staggered would be an understatement.”
“This is the head of world football, whose slogan is ‘For the Good of the Game’. What message does this send out after two or three decades of hard work fighting racism in football?”
“He should resign his position because his views are archaic and out of touch.”
Aware of the reaction his comments had caused, Blatter then backtracked slightly on what he said, claiming that he had been misunderstood.
He said: “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.”
This is unlikely to stop the backlash though and there is, without doubt, more to come from this story.