Blatter, race, and status quo

Musa Okwonga
blatter2 300x225 Blatter, race, and status quo

Blatter appeared to suggest handshakes could resolve racist abuse rows

It was really hard to care when I first watched the Sepp Blatter interview on CNN: the one where he said that racist comments made during matches should simply be shrugged off after the match with the aid of a handshake. In fact, it was so hard to care that I couldn’t bring myself to watch it again.

I watched a flurry of Tweets cascade down my feed, several of them accompanied by the hashtag  “#blatterout”. I read of the despair of many people who couldn’t believe that Blatter was allowed to hold and express such views. But I still didn’t feel that welling of anger, that surge of rage that I usually feel when I perceive an injustice.

And then I realised: it wasn’t that I didn’t care, if anything I cared too much. When the body experiences overwhelming physical pain, it shuts down and numbs the affected area. I think this is what happened yesterday evening. I think that my sigh of resignation was actually something more than that.

You see, on one level, what Blatter said can be laughed off as the fumblings of an out-of-touch fool. “Rise above it”, etc. Except you can’t rise above it, and that’s the whole point. Blatter is the top dog.  And in the knowledge that there was little if nothing that I could personally do about this state of affairs, my emotions helpfully numbed themselves.

Or maybe there’s another explanation for my apparent apathy.  Sepp Blatter stopped making me furious a long time ago, when I began to understand his true value: not as the head honcho of the world’s most popular sport, but as a metaphor.  Whether the issue affecting football is sexism, homophobia or, in this case, racism, Blatter pops up with uncanny regularity – a speaking-clock – to remind us of the true atmosphere at the very top of football.  He is a metaphor for entitlement.  Sepp Blatter is exactly what you get at the top of an organisation that is supremely unaccountable and sitting in a tax haven upon a multi-billion dollar nest-egg.

That’s why, strangely enough, I don’t think the greatest emphasis should be on whether Blatter loses his job.  Because even if he does – which I think is unlikely – there will still exist the same ossified structure that made his career possible in the first place.  I can’t see root-and-branch reform happening at FIFA, because the money is still flowing in from all corners of the world.  And if the committee running the world’s most popular game is riding high despite a casual acceptance of the type of discrimination that continues to damage and destroy countless careers, then why the hell would they bother to change?

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  • Overture33

    Exceptionally good article!  Thank you.

  • Old49er

    God this article is depressing. True but still depressing.

    I am coming to the view that the only way is to rip FIFA up and start again, hopefully avoiding the replacement becoming as corrupted as FIFA.

    Well said by the way.

  • Sociopol

    I guess next thing would be to appoint Tony Blair as the head of Fifa

  • FreedomAndHypocrisyWatch

    This is a “thought crime”.

    Is name calling anywhere as serious as a professional foul ? Imagine a deliberate rear tackle damaging knee or tendons ? Why is that not assault ?

  • joannajay

    Blatter is right, of course. All
    this hoo-hah in Britain is simply sour-grapes for his daring to thwart England’s
    presumed devine-right to host World-Cups – as and whenever the FA dam-well
    feels like it…!!! It’s simply media over-reaction – political correctness gone
    mad…!! – largely down to a quite irrational wielding of one rule for Blacks/Third
    Worlders and another for Native White English-Speakers, which amounts to misguided
    insistence on positive discrimination as overcompensation for Britain’s past
    Imperial “guilt”…!!!

    Even so, I bet if Blatter hadn’t recently
    opposed England’s World Cup venue bid, there would not have been even one tenth of
    the anti-Blatter blather from the British media we’re getting now…!!!

  • niged

    Whether attitudes and stupidity don’t change if Blatter goes should not deter us from wanting to see the back of the imbecile.

  • oxforddon

    Why the outrage at Blatter?  In June 2010 on the Andrew Neill TV show Diane Abbott MP stated that ONLY West Indian mums “would go to the wall for their children”.  When asked by Neill whether this disgusting remark was racist she simply smiled and replied: “I have said all I am going to say”.

    She has NEVER apologised.

    Yet when Blatter says something equally stupid the British bay for his blood in mock horror.

    Why the double standards?  Surely sauce for a Labour MP is sauce for Mr Blatter?  Or is Labour racism acceptable (I don’t think so).

  • KingL

    She said ‘ONLY’ did she?

    Yeah right.

  • Guest

    If a someone who was fat and ginger committed a nasty foul what would you call him in the heat of the game?

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