While the FA is being seen to take racism seriously with its handling of the Suarez and Evra case and its ongoing investigation into claims Chelsea’s John Terry racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand – FIFA president Seb Blatter has suggested racist abuse should be dealt with on the pitch.
Blatter said 'It's foul language, it's foul play’ and suggested that racist abuse on the pitch should be settled by a handshake.
Alex Woolfall, head of Porter Novelli's EMEA corporate practice, said : ‘Blatter has become something of a laughing stock and he is dragging down FIFA's reputation with him.'
Woolfall questions who is advising Blatter on his comms: ‘Who is directing FIFA's comms strategy: Laurel and Hardy? Blatter is a loose cannon and this whole episode is tarnishing FIFA's reputation.’
This tarnishing of FIFA’s reputation is set to hit it financially with the airline Emirates, one of the organisation’s six official partners, stating it may not renew its £122m sponsorship deal when it expires in 2014 over concerns its brand ‘has been damaged by Blatter's remarks and the widespread outrage and offence he has caused’.
Prime Minister David Cameron has also publicly condemned Blatter and Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson has called for him to stand down.
Woolfall was quick to commend FA for its differing stance: ‘The FA is behaving like a professional sporting body should behave, saying that the organisation is ‘in tune with the public mood’.
He said: ‘It's taking the issue seriously and, in so doing, recognising that racism has no place in football. That's an important message to communicate and I think it has done that well. People have leapt to support the FA's position and that tells you it is totally in tune with the public mood on this.’
Emma Newell, head of sport at Lexis, applauded the FA for being ‘quick to demonstrate its zero tolerance approach against racism’ but argues it should publicly condemn Blatter.
She said: ‘Although the FA was quick to demonstrate its zero tolerance approach, not just against racism but all forms of discrimination on and off the pitch, a number of players vented their frustration with the statement, with many demanding that the FA should have come out and publicly condemned Blatter’s comments.’
Newell also stated that Blatter’s comments are ‘at odds with FIFA’s own thinking’ and ‘undermine years of work aimed at eradicating racism from the game’.
Newell also criticises Blatter for turning to Twitter, saying that it ‘only added fuel to the fire’. ‘It wasn’t long until the debate was trending on Twitter with players, football leaders and fans adding to the storm by calling for his resignation’, she added.