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When Blatter steps in something unspeakable, it is hard to distinguish the man from what he trod in

By Tony Attwood

There is something so utterly obnoxious about Fifa’s president Sepp Blatter that it is hard to put into words, without utilising the language of the street.   And of course the obnoxiousness of the man spreads outwards.  Every organisation that associates itself with Fifa becomes part of the appalling approach to life the man embodies.

When Milan players took the courageous and (as far as I am concerned) correct step to walk off the pitch after Kevin-Prince Boateng’s was repeatedly abused by opposition supporters, we knew it would only be a matter of time before the widely praised decision by the players was criticised by Blatter.

Now he has done what we expected.  He has warned clubs they risk forfeiting matches if there is a repeat.

And to this response, the simple question must be asked: is there anything more important than football?   To the civilised person the answer must always be yes there are a lot of things more important than football.   Defeating racism and homophobia come fairly high on any list I would put together.

Boateng’s crime was to leave the pitch, followed by his team-mates during a friendly at Pro Patria.  The player has said he would do the same again.

What we really need at this time is not Blatter, whose influence can be seen when fines for marketing “offences” far exceed fines for racist crimes, but more men like Boateng and his colleagues.

Trying to cover his own expansive back, Blatter said football should take a “zero-tolerance approach” to racism but nevertheless clubs must forfeit games  if their players walk off, whatever the reason.

So now, even if it were not clear, that is Fifa thinking, and because the FA is part of Fifa, it must become FA thinking.  Because Uefa is part of Fifa it will be their thinking, and through that the clubs must follow.  Every part of football that wasn’t already in the gutter is now dragged there.

Here’s some more from Blatter.  “I don’t think you can run away, because then the team should have to forfeit the match….  The only solution is to be very harsh with the sanctions – and the sanctions must be a deduction of points or something similar.”   Which is exactly what Fifa and Uefa has not done in world cup and club cup matches.

Here is more, and it gets worse.  “This action is an example that the spectators must behave well because, as I understand it, the player ran away and the others went with him.”

Boateng replied, “So many people in Fifa can do something and they should wake up and do it. They should not tolerate it. They should ban people forever from the stadiums. That’s the first thing you can do.”  Indeed I agree.

Meanwhile the Italian Football Federation is conducting an investigation into the incident, but the fact is that racism is widespread in some countries, and Fifa as an international agency could do something about it by, at the very least, forcing countries and teams whose supporters or players behave in a racist manner to play the next ten competitive games that are due to be at home, away from home.  It is a simple solution.

Personally I would have that rule everywhere – and I would include incidents of homophobia too.

But the chances of getting anything done by Blatter and his team is lower than zero.  Football is sullied by this man, day after day, year after year, but the fact that countries like England continue to belong to the organisation he runs, gives him endless support, and he knows it.  No one stands up to Blatter, apart from a moderate number of journalists and bloggers.

In simple terms consorting with racists makes one a racist, and that is what my country has done and is doing.

——————————–

The books…

The sites…

27 comments to When Blatter steps in something unspeakable, it is hard to distinguish the man from what he trod in

  • avatar John

    I agree completely. Blatter is at least consistent and very predictable. His previous comments that racist abuse from players during matches could all be sorted out by a handshake at the final whistle showed his total ignorance.

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    We need a kind of Arabian spring to get rid of people like Blatter.
    But the problem is that it is the members that should start the campaign to get him out. Just as in Tunisia one person started the removal of the local dictator.

    We should hope that Boateng will be what was Mohammed Bouazizi for Tunisia. (Without setting himself on fire – he doesn’t have to follow him completely)

    We can only hope that the Boateng act and his team mates will be the start of a revolution from the players to not take it any more. By leaving the pitch in case of racial abuse each and every time it will force the football authorities to change things around.

    As most teams have people from all continents in their teams now they should feel the same about it. In fact if both teams walked off the field together “united against racism” Fifa will have to change. And if Blatter refuses at first (as did the dictator in Tunisia and other countries and as he will do) the movement from below should just continue to expose him as what he is: a horrible person.

    If both teams leave the field together then what will FIFA do? Forfeit them both? At the start they can try this but if it happens each time things will change.

  • avatar nicky

    A well constructed post Tony, which needed to be said.
    It’s about time a few immediate on-the-spot actions were taken against the racist morons of the world, rather than await the pinko decisions of FIFA.

  • avatar mystic

    Much as I hate to agree with anything Blatter says in this instance I do.

    What happens if a team is 3:0 down, marches off the pitch to avoid defeat citing as an excuse racism from opposing players, when in fact nothing actually happened? How do you determine who is telling the truth? I am afraid honesty is a thing of the past.

  • avatar nicky

    @Mystic,
    In my view, anything as drastic as a walk-off is worth the risk in order to draw attention to racism. A football result would be unimportant by comparison to the publicity gained.

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    Mystic,
    that is why both teams should leave the field together to avoid such a thing.

  • avatar goooner

    @Mystic
    The ref should abandon the game. By some accounts (no I don’t have sources-sorry) Boateng complained to the ref 3 times, and he told him to get on with it. If this happens FIFA will have to back their appointed official.

  • avatar mystic

    @nicky – but is a team leaves for its own reason, rather than justifiable ones, is it not diminishing the issue?

    @WalterBroeckx – assuming that nothing happens, why would the winning team march off the pitch. Yes if it is solely related to fans abuse I agree that maybe there would be justification for doing so, but in making that argument we are saying that fans racism is more relevant than player racism. Sorry but you need to consider both the same and therefore walking off should not be condoned as it might not be for real reasons.

  • avatar bob

    Tony,
    I stand fully with your moral advocacy on this.
    Septic Bladder has leaked massively on the pitch.
    He reminds me, in actual spirit, of Avery Brundage, the midwife of the Berlin Olympics of 1936. At least then, the Aryan’s lost the race-race to the brilliant Jesse Owens, and karmic justice was served. Bladder needs to be muzzled, or better yet, diapered (so sorry to be redundant).

  • avatar insideright

    The decision, I’m afraid, is always based on money at risk.
    Fining Bendtner (for an instance of ‘guerilla marketing’) a great deal more than a club for not doing enough to eliminate racist chanting is simply a function of how much money would be lost to the game if the same thing happened again. Sponsors pay high fees for exclusivity and if someone breaks into that relationship then the consequences are potentially very expensive.
    A few people being banned costs the clubs concerned (in theory at least) very little and is therefore seen as generally low on the scale of financial importance. In fact sponsors might be against their banning because, to the TV watching millions (who can’t really hear what’s being said) there would be a lessening of ‘atmosphere’ being generated. Given that ‘atmosphere’ and ‘passion’ help to sell the game (and thereby, the sponsors) their view may even be to turn a blind eye completely.
    As Wenger himself said recently football has sold it’s soul to TV and, we must assume, to those who have paid large sums to be associated with it.

  • avatar bob

    mystic,
    If, in fact (as per your scenario) nothing racist happened, then the ensuing post-match investigation would presumably find that. In which case, the side that marched off under false pretenses could be docked for BOTH a loss, and an additional 3 points for “diving” on moral grounds. I would think that the loss of 6 points would be enough of a disincentive most of the time to give any such opportunist manager great pause.

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    Maybe if we would write “in masses” tot the Fifa and Uefa sponsors that we will not buy their products any more if they support racism could change anything?

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    Bob, I like that idea :)

  • avatar Stuart

    Blatters job has taken him around the world however it has been wasted on him as he hasn’t seen it.

  • avatar Stuart

    @ Mystic,
    Walking off the pitch is really a way of saying something has to be done. Why should someone tolerate being abused? Fifa have to take tough action and really step up major efforts to remove racism (and other discrimination) from the game in order to avoid a situation occuring where offenders would need to walk off. I get what you are saying about walking off when the team are losing but to be honest, with the little emphasis on dealing with this matter at present, there is more chance of that happening with the way things are. The fact is, and it is clear for all to see, FIFA do not care if racism exists.

    What strikes me as very odd is how this always seems to be a FIFA, FA or UEFA matter where as if I racially abused the black family living 3 doors away, they could complain to the police and I’d be arrested. If they had evidence I’d be charged. Why does everyone assume that this is no business of th police?

  • avatar Laos gooner

    I completely agree that restraint when it comes to expletives is difficult with this thing called Blatter. I support totally the stance of Kevin Boateng, which in my opinion is the ultimate expression of zero tolerance. The moment it begins, is the exact time for action to be taken. I have played in several countries myself and am very pleased to say, that I have not suffered such abuse in the amateur game. Maybe as an old punk rocker I did get stick about the colour of my hair but that’s normal game banter and you all sit down together after the game. i.e. football has bought me closer to people as a foreigner and is not generally discriminatory. I would however feel that something should be done if it were to occur. Our team 2552 Corinthians prides itself on being a mixed nationality team and it will always be that way, this week we could have 6 different countries represented. My god some of them are yids and yet on the field we all play in the spirit of the team and the game. Perhaps these idiots who are abusing players have not the least idea about sportsmanship or life or intelligence. perhaps those on FIFA are cut with the same cloth could be one explanation for their comments ?

  • avatar nicky

    @Mystic,
    I think that in life there are times when we simply have to acknowledge the righteousness of man. Unless proved otherwise, therefore, we would accept that a walk-off was morally correct.

  • avatar FunGunner

    The title made me laugh, so I had to read the article.

    When Milan players took the courageous and (as far as I am concerned) correct step to walk off the pitch after Kevin-Prince Boateng’s was repeatedly abused by opposition supporters

    Absolutely right. People have to draw a line and it’s really good to see the footballers themselves doing it. Enough is enough.
    Of course there are more important things than football – the paradox of the game is that you have to pla it

    @ mystic
    In practice, I can’t see your scenario arising. I don’t think a team would risk forfeiting a game if there were no real cause. Players hate to lose, so there’d have to be a good reason to take the risk. I suppose the players could mistakenly think that they were being racially abused, but again it’s highly unlikely IMO.

  • avatar FunGunner

    Forgot to finish my sentence – what I meant to say is the paradox of the game is that you have to play it as if it were a matter of life or death, while knowing that it’s just a game.

  • avatar mystic

    @ stuart / @nicky
    I’m afraid the arguments from both of you justifying the walking off a pitch is assuming guilt before a trial.

  • avatar A. Stewart

    I think it’s time for Blatter to step aside (won’t happen but one can only wish).

  • avatar goooner

    @mystic,
    That is why the ref will act as judge and jury. In most cases the crowd behavior is pretty obvious. If the player complains to the ref, he can communicate this to his assistants and 4th official. The stadium announcer could warn the crowd. If they do not stop, the ref should lead both teams off the field, and abandon the match with a 3-0 result to the non offending team.

  • avatar americangooner

    I am always of the view that septic won’t be doing anything drastic. nor will platini or the FA. they are an organisation without any brains in them. mostly run by white, who’ll never know what’s it like to get racially abused. with corruption rife in FIFA, its no surprise they can’t tackle racism properly. its upto the players and spectators to make a difference.

    @mystic also there is a thing called investigation. if a player wrongly thinks he is racially abused and walks off when his side is losing 3-0, it will be investigated. if during the investigations there is no such evidence, the player(s) will be penalised. it will also be seen as a forfeiture by the losing team.
    if there is a racial abuse, and despite the efforts of match officials, continues abetted, the match will be restarted at a later date in a neutral stadium with zero offending team supporters.

  • avatar Matt Clarke

    Whilst I agree with moral imperative and applaud Boateng (and, hurrah, his team mates), it seems to me that this has the potential to be resolved by players actions via their lawyers.

    FIFA are directing players, through their employers, the clubs, to work in a hostile environment. I am no expert on employment law, but would hope that this contradicts the player’s rights.

    Class action suit anyone?

  • avatar Gord

    Is Blatter reading UntoldArsenal? The BBC is reporting that Hungary and Bulgaria must play their next world cup qualifiers behind closed doors. And
    > Fifa also fined the Bulgarian FA £23,685 and the Hungarian FA £27,051
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/20951156

    The BBC is also reporting that Pro Patria has been sanctioned.
    > Italian fourth division side Pro Patria have been ordered to play one match behind closed doors as punishment for racist chanting towards AC Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/20953048

  • avatar Stuart

    Mystic.
    No trial is needed. If you were to insult me and I heard you do it, I’d do what I had to do, I wouldn’t need a trial to tell me if I heard it or not.

  • avatar Domhuail

    A very interesting article Tony and a great title! From the perspective of a former referee and League administrator (amateur only) here is my take on this and other incidents:

    1)The Laws state that it is the decision of the referee to stop or continue a match where crowd behaviour requires management. He or she can ask the stadium management to warn the crowd about behaviours that are dangerous, threatening or that bring the game into disrepute. IF the behaviour continues, he or she can suspend the match temporarily, giving the authorities time to control, the undesired behaviour OR if in their judgement it is too risky to continue, terminate proceedings, remove the teams from the field and inform the management that they will be reporting the events to the proper Footballing authorities.
    2)Any football Association NEVER encourages teams or players to walk off the field, regardless of the events,since that undermines the authority of the referee,BUT I have seen teams jointly or individually walk off after serious crowd or other incidents. I did see one game where the crowd was harassing both teams, do a sit-down strike, with all players, including the keepers firmly planting their posteriors and refusing to continue the match until the referee and the coaches had addressed the crowd. The referee had NO idea what to do, nor did anyone else and when he reported the incident to the League, they almost died laughing. It shows that it is possible to make a point without leaving the field of play.
    3)Racism is about as serious as you can get in Football and needs equally serious consequences. It is in the ordinary run of play that a player may be booed and called non-racial nicknames BUT with the horrible and continuous perversity of racism still fresh in most minorities memories, it is an exceptional situation and totally intolerable. FIFA and EUFA don’t seem to get it so maybe a player inspired movement to stop play (entirely for both teams) and stand still until the racists are dealt with by the stadium security or whomever (police, management, non-racist fans?)would be an appropriate response. What would FIFA and EUFA, or the FA for that matter, be able to do if all players refused to participate? They haven’t broken any Laws and standing still is not bringing the game into disrepute, does not challenge the referee’s authority or even risk sanctions for whatever?
    Mystic….there is usually so much video and photographic evidence, as well as non-racist eye-witnesses to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt that racist fans were chanting racist names and solgans directed at minority players, that your so-called trial before guilt is ridiculous. I can assure you that a minority player(s) racially abused by fans will NOT pretend that, nor imagine it….I gather you’ve never seen a racist at a Football match?