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Blatter says sorry, but won’t quit

A day after players criticised his remarks, a defiant Fifa chief, though hurt, stands firm.

sports Updated: Nov 18, 2011 23:06 IST
racism row

With-footballers-facing-allegations-of-racial-abuse-FIFA-President-Sepp-Blatter-sparked-an-angry-reaction-by-suggesting-that-playerscould-settle-the-matter-with-a-handshake

Fifa president Sepp Blatter apologised for his controversial comments about racism on Friday but said he would not be resigning despite a growing clamour in Britain for him to step down.

"It hurts and I am still hurting because I couldn't envisage such a reaction," the 75-year-old head of world soccer's governing body said in a BBC interview.

“When you have done something which was not totally correct, I can only say I am sorry for all those people affected by my declarations.”

Blatter sparked outrage, most notably in England where the FA is dealing with two high-profile racism allegations, when he suggested on Wednesday that incidents of racist abuse on the pitch should be settled with a handshake after the game.

His comments were criticised by players such as England defender Rio Ferdinand and former captain David Beckham and even brought a stinging rebuke from British Prime Minister David Cameron, who described them as “appalling”.

However, Blatter said he would not quit over the remarks which have provoked back page headlines in Britain's newspapers such as "Go Now Blatter" and "Now He Must Go".

“I cannot resign,” Blatter said. “Why should I?

“When you are faced with a problem you have to face the problem. To leave would be totally unfair and not compatible with my fighting spirit, my character, my energy.”

The latest controversy surrounding the long-standing FIFA president erupted on Wednesday when in two separate television interviews he suggested racism in football was not a problem.

Asked by CNN if there was racism in the game, Blatter said: "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.”

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