Sepp Blatter said the action Boateng and AC Milan took doesn’t solve the longstanding problem of racism and soccer. He thinks tough sanctions by the game’s governing bodies would be a more appropriate response to racial abuse, according to The National.
“I have just learnt about this, but we have to have no tolerance in racism; absolutely no tolerance,” Blatter said. “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. They cannot go on abusing afterwards.
“Walk off? No. I don’t think that is the solution … I don’t think you can run away, because eventually you can run away if you lose a match,” he added.
“This issue is a very touchy subject, but I repeat there is zero tolerance of racism in the stadium; we have to go against that. The only solution is to be very harsh with the sanctions — and the sanctions must be a deduction of points or something similar.”
Boateng walked off the field Thursday after opposing fans racially abused him and AC Milan’s other black players. Boateng’s teammates followed him, and the game was called off. Much of the soccer world praised Boateng and Milan immediately afterwards, but many senior officials have remained silent.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) launched an inquiry into the case. FIFA will probably wait until it receives a detailed report before it decides what course of action to take
FIFA, UEFA and other governing bodies have been criticized for not doing enough to eliminate racism from the game. Players have threatened to respond in a number of ways (including walking off the field) in the absence of action from authorities, but they have been discouraged from doing so. Last summer, UEFA president Michel Platini warned that players who walked off the field during Euro 2012 would be cautioned by the referee.
Boateng and Milan acted in an exhibition against a provincial Italian club. The world took notice, nonetheless. It could embolden other victims of abuse to take similar stances against racism and bigotry. When it happens, the stage just might be bigger and the stakes higher. Blatter, with the help of his PR handlers, might reconsider his own feelings between now and then.