Blatter calls for relegation to punish racism

The Fifa president reiterates his support of Kevin-Prince Boateng after his walk-off against Pro Patria and feels fines are not a sufficient penalty to deter offenders
Sepp Blatter has backed relegation as an appropriate punishment for racism in football.

The issue of racist abuse has been firmly in the spotlight recently, with AC Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng's walk-off in a friendly against Pro Patria at the forefront, while Lazio were fined €40,000 by Uefa for racist chanting in a Europa League match against Tottenham.

Blatter praised Boateng for delivering a "strong warning" to offenders, but insists that points deductions and relegation should be the ultimate sanctions against a club which cannot control the behaviour of its fans.

He told "I agree with and support the movement of Boateng – as I have said – as it was a strong warning. It is now up to us to take the adequate steps.

"What I feel we should do is give instructions to our national associations and the confederations – specifically to the disciplinary committees – to be very strong. It is not enough to give a fine. Playing a game without spectators is one of the possible sanctions, but the best would be the deduction of points and the relegation of a team, because finally the club is responsible for their spectators.

"It [racism] is a phenomena where football is a victim of our society. Discrimination and racism is everywhere in our society. We in football cannot be made responsible for what happens in our society. But nowhere in the world – regarding all the problems you can have in your private life, in business, in politics – can you solve a problem by running away."

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has also called on the sport to unify against racism, telling Radio 24: "Sometimes we talk about lowering our voices, but everyone needs to raise their voices against racism.

"I supported Milan and Boateng’s choice to leave the field due to the racist chanting in Busto Arsizio. It was a strong gesture but maybe it will be difficult to repeat.

"But we must have the strength to be indignant, to say ‘enough’ and to turn our backs on those who chant offensive things.

"It’s important to talk about it, to discuss it. We can’t pretend that nothing happened. We have to say ‘enough’."

Blatter also commented on the problem of match-fixing and urged people in the game to become "whistle-blowers" as Fifa works with political authorities to wipe out the issue.

"It [matchfixing] is one of the devils of football," he added. "If people know a match can be fixed then they will no longer believe in the outcome in our sport. We are working here together with the political authorities and also with INTERPOL.

"What is necessary is solidarity within the football community. Then, when players, coaches and referees are touched by these people, they should immediately disclose it, acting as whistle-blowers. Only then can we intervene effectively."