Handshakes Can't Solve Racism in Soccer

FIFA President Sepp Blatter deserves criticism for his foolish remark about a racial-abuse claim.

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Luis Suarez (left) and Patrice Evra (Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty Images)

If only it were that simple: shaking hands to erase a centuries-old superiority complex and wipe out perceptions passed from generation to generation.

Maybe that possibility truly exists in the Pollyanna mind of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, but it's hard to believe he could be so naïve. Yet, that's what he said recently, responding to a racial abuse claim that arose in a match between Manchester United and Liverpool.

Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, a black Frenchman, accused Liverpool's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez of saying “a certain word to me at least 10 times. No place for that in 2011. The referee is aware of what was said.”  

Suarez responded by saying the term he used isn't a slur in South America and he shouldn't be punished.

International soccer has a long history of racist behavior, which led the Commission for Racial Equality and Professional Footballers Association to launch the “Let's Kick Racism Out of Football” campaign in 1993.

Blatter told CNN Wednesday that racism no longer exists in soccer. He also said players who are called a racist name should forget about it.

“Maybe one of the players has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one,” he said. “But the one who is effected 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. This can happen because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.”

Blatter came under heavy criticism for his dismissive remarks, including calls for his resignation, since these aren't his first questionable comments. He has since offered a weak apology but refused to step down.

Considering his record of bonehead gaffes, you have to wonder if the 75-year-old Swiss is cut out for the job. A separate incident of racial abuse in the Premier League was under investigation when Blatter made his latest outrageous remarks.

An enlightened man realizes that handshakes can't end racial animus.

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