PM - Blatter comments 'appalling'
Prime Minister responds to Blatter controversy
Last Updated: November 18, 2011 8:02am
David Cameron: Says it is 'appalling' of Blatter to suggest racism should be accepted
Prime Minister David Cameron has branded controversial comments made by FIFA president Sepp Blatter downplaying the impact of racism in football as 'appalling'.
FIFA president Blatter caused outrage on Wednesday when he suggested in a television interview that racism on the pitch should be settled by a handshake and defended his record on tackling discrimination.
Blatter followed his comments in a fresh TV interview on Thursday where he apparently likened racist abuse on the pitch to "foul language".
The furore sparked by comments made in earlier interviews given to CNN and Al Jazeera has led to influential figures in British sport to call for Blatter to resign but there looks to be little serious threat to his hold on the FIFA presidency.
The Prime Minister released a statement on the matter on Thursday evening in which he said: "It's appalling to suggest that racism in any way should be accepted as part of the game.
"A lot of work has gone into ridding racism from all aspects of our society, including football. As many of our top sports stars have rightly pointed out, now is not the time for complacency."
Cameron's response came after his sports minister, Hugh Robertson, urged Blatter - already unpopular in England for the way in which he and FIFA dealt with the country's failed bid to stage the 2018 World Cup - to resign.
A Football Association spokesperson also said on Thursday: "The FA and all of English football are united behind the belief that there should be a zero tolerance approach against racism and all forms of discrimination.
"We are committed to inclusivity and all forms of discrimination should be reported."
Blatter's remarks followed the news that Liverpool's Uruguayan international Luis Suarez had been charged by the Football Association for allegedly racially abusing Manchester United's French international Patrice Evra.
England captain John Terry is also facing a police and FA investigation over allegations he racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.