Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has hit out at Sepp Blatter over his comments on racism, as the FIFA president tries to distance himself from initial comments.
Blatter had said that racism on the pitch was not a problem and that racist abuse between players should be settled by a handshake. However, he later claimed that he had been misquoted and did not mean what he had said.
Ferdinand contacted Blatter’s Twitter account directly, writing: “@SeppBlatter your comments on racism are so condescending its almost laughable. If fans shout racist chants but shake our hands is that ok?”
He continued: “Tell me I have just read Sepp Blatter’s comments on racism in football 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. Just for clarity if a player abuses a referee, does a shake of the hand after the game wipe the slate clean??”
Blatter’s comments came on the day the English FA charged Liverpool striker Luis Suarez with racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. England captain John Terry is also fighting a racism row and is strongly protesting his innocence.
Speaking on CNN World Sport, Blatter denied that the issue was a problem: “I would deny it. 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, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.”
Later, the FIFA President retracted his statement saying:
“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.
“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.”