Various media outlets in January 2013 reported that Sepp Blatter was finally calling for point deduction from clubs who’s fans are found guilty of racist behaviour.
The issue of racism in football has long been one of the many demons plaguing the game that is yet to be addressed. After all issues pertaining to violence, drug use and corruption were, for the most part, solved. So why does racism still exist?
With a number of high profile offences stemming from Europe (Suarez v Evra, Ferdinand v Terry, Rose v Serbia and most recent, Prince Boateng v Pro Patria and even more recently, Balotelli v Berlusconi and Ballotelli v AC Milan). Not forgetting the open letter from the largest organized fan group of Zenith St Petersburg fans wrote in response to the team signing the likes of Hulk, the media attention has certainly been focused on this issue.
The problem here is whether this solution will ever take effect. What Sepp is proposing here is nothing new. The problem here is if it is now becoming a case of being too little to late. Why this proposition is not already in force is one only Sepp himself can answer. After all if he truly believed Kevin Prince Boatengs decision to walk off was a cowardly act, what then did he expect? For Boateng and other players of colour to continue as if nothing was going on? That has been the attitude for years and it has not put a stop to racism in football so why not be bold and try something different?
This issue has been prevalent in football, and unfortunately more so in Europe. Stories similar to Boatengs do exist, but these have never been given so much attention as they have been today. Other leagues around the world appear to show small numbers of incidents being reported in comparison to Europe. Just this past weekend form Inter Milan player, Balotelli, was the subject of racism from the Inter Milan fans because he now players for AC Milan. No reports have emerged to say Inter Milan will be deducted points for racism. Italian media outlets reported that a fine of $66,000 was imposed on Inter Milan by Seria A’s disciplinary commission (that’s about a weeks worth of wages for most average players) but no points deduction. Deduction of a point or two would hit the fans where it hurts and ensure the club does all it can to avoid a repeat. But this has not occurred as of yet. Did Blatter miss the event?
Football is a major uniting sport. It has the power to unite the world and the power to divide towns within the same cities. Sepp must know this. He must also know already that the problem of racism is not one football invited. It is a worldly evil that has crept into the sport. Football cannot solve all of the worlds problems (contrary to popular belief!) but it can set an example. The world may suffer from poverty, inequality, racism and all the other age old issues that the world is still slowly trying to grapple with, but within the football stadium and squared circled arenas, on the streets, in the stands, in the offices and on football pitches, these worldly issues should not exist. Rigid rules in place (such as points deductions or bans from cup competitions) will ensure such behaviours are not tolerated and send a clear message to closet racists. If you will not change, then keep it in the closet.