Blatter kills the ‘respect' campaign

Put simply, racism, of any form, has no place in society, sport or anywhere else for that matter. Yet what Sepp Blatter — who will once again ride out the latest calls for his long-overdue departure — fails to grasp, is there is a consequence to every action. By Jim van Wijk.

“I see no ships”, the FIFA president will no doubt have declared from his ivory tower in Zurich when surveying the fallout from the latest public relations disaster. Yet the reality for Sepp Blatter could not be more stark.

Put simply, racism, of any form, has no place in society, sport or anywhere else for that matter.

Blatter can dress his “misunderstood” comments up as much as he likes, but that is what he should have said when asked about the subject, twice, during different television interviews.

Yet what the Swiss supremo — who will once again ride out the latest calls for his long-overdue departure — fails to grasp, is there is a consequence to every action.

Not that he would know, or indeed probably care, what goes on during a grass-roots football match on Sunday mornings up and down the country, and indeed on parks or make-do pitches across the globe, as impressionable children and often slightly overweight, balding men who really should know better get set for their very own taste of the beautiful game.

This is where the reality of Blatter's blunder will bite.

Because this is where some no-mark this weekend will probably think they can get away with saying something which has no place on a football pitch, playground or subject for discussion after dinner.

“If a player abuses a referee, does a shake of the hand after the game wipe the slate clean?” former England captain Rio Ferdinand put out there in the start of a Twitter spat between the Manchester United defender and the man at the very top of the world game.

We all know the answer to that simple, yet fundamental question.

‘Respect' has become a buzzword in the modern game, lauded by the Football Association in an attempt to improve attitudes towards officials on the pitch and from the sidelines right through the game.

Blatter's latest comments may just have killed that drive for good.

How are we expected to show respect for the whistle, if it is okay to hurl abuse at the opposition left winger, so long as you pat him on the back at full-time and say “no hard feelings old chum?”

It just doesn't wash.

If anyone deserves the red card, it is Blatter.

Whether those on FIFA's executive committee will have the guts to show it, is a whole different ball game.

* * *

Fabio Capello believes he may just have stumbled on “something new and very interesting” after England secured an unbeaten 2011 campaign with Wembley friendly victories over Spain and Sweden.

Shame the Italian, who will depart his post after next summer's European Championship, had not stumbled across the winning formula when it mattered most last year.

Still, the emergence of Phil Jones — who could one day very well become England's Franco Baresi — Jack Rodwell, Kyle Walker and Daniel Sturridge were all plus points of what was essentially an experimental squad ahead of 2012.

There is, of course, a lot more football to be played between now and when England run out in either Poland or Ukraine, hopefully avoiding the ubiquitous 'Group of Death' in December's draw.

But, once again, England are now left with some genuine hope for what lies ahead.

“Now we have young players, who by the time we play in the Euros will be better than they are now,” said Capello.

But as the England manager knows only too well, it is the hope which kills you.

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