By Joseph Willits
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Sports Minister Hugh Robertson has called for the resignation of Sepp Blatter, after yet another furore has engulfed the Fifa President – this time over racism. Speaking on BBC Radio 5live this morning, Robertson claimed that Blatter's words were "completely wrong as well as morally indefensible". Robertson described Blatter's behaviour as "nothing new", and that the most crucial "point for us here in this country… is that it [racism] is a criminal offence."
Blatter was asked by a CNN reporter about racism in football, in light of the Football Association's decision to charge Liverpool's Luis Suarez, over his racial abuse of Patrice Evra. England captain John Terry is also part of an FA inquiry and a formal Metropolitan Police investigation over his alleged racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand. Blatter denied that there was any racism in football:
"There is no racism, there is maybe one of the players towards another, he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one, but also the one who is affected by that, he should say that this is a game. We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen. On the field of play sometimes you say something that is not very correct, but then at the end of the game you have the next game where you can behave better."
Robertson said that "Sepp Blatter will expect the English and the English press to pile it on him". The very fact that racism "is sill a problem in other parts of the world" he said, is "precisely why you need to have the president of the world body not dismissing this out of hand, not saying it can be solved as a hand shake, but actually rolling his sleeves up with the rest of FIFA and making sure this is sorted out." The Sports Minister said he was "appalled by the way the organisation [Fifa] conducts itself", and that the Government was trying to put pressure on Fifa to tackle racism together with European clubs. On Blatter's comments, Robertson said, "this sort of thing just happens all too regularly and it reflects very very badly on FIFA."
Robertson suggested that the latest Blatter controversy was one in a long line of serious gaffes made by the Fifa President, but that this was the most serious: "it's gone past behaviour to corruption to telling Gay people not to go to Qatar". Both the Guardian and the Telegraph have compiled some of his previous comments.
Conservative MP for Keighley, Kris Hopkins has been even more critical, of Blatter's "unfathomable" comments, and more outspoken in his calls for his resignation:
"Being allowed to leave his position on his own terms by resigning is too good for this bigoted, narrow-minded buffoon … Mr Blatter has become a blight on world football and his latest remarks must bring an immediate end to his pantomime presidency of FIFA."
Manchester United and England defender, Rio Ferdinand has already used Twitter to attack Blatter's comments, describing them as "so condescending it's almost laughable". Ferdinand also slammed Fifa's attempts to "clear up the Blatter comments with a pic of him posing with a black man". Blatter himself used Twitter to directly respond to Ferdinand: