Blatter apologises

Say what you like about Sepp Blatter, but he ain’t too proud to beg. Not when his job’s on the line.

The FIFA president, sensing which way the wind was blowing and keen to avoid becoming mired in yet another controversy, has apologised for the remarks he made about racism on the football pitch.

“It hurts and I am still hurting because I couldn’t envisage such a reaction,” said the 75-year-old Swiss.

“When you have done something which was not totally correct, I can only say I am sorry for all those people affected by my declarations.”

Blatter stated his “fight against racism and discrimination will go on” and said he would not resign despite calls for him to quit by the poppy-waving populace of Britain.

“Zero tolerance,” he said. “This was a good lesson for me as well.”

To be fair to Blatter, his record in office indicates that while he might be an idiot with questionable integrity and dubious taste in friends, he’s not, as far as we can ascertain, a racist.

Support from a likely place

If Gus Poyet was reading those comments, he would be advised to cut and paste Blatter’s statement of contrition and save it on his laptop, because I suspect those words might come in handy in the next few days.

Poyet has raised his head above the parapet to speak in support of his fellow Uruguayan Luis Suarez. The Liverpool striker has been charged by the FA with racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra – a charge he denies.

However, Poyet, currently managing Championship side Brighton, has had what can only be described as a bit of a Ron Atkinson moment.

“You cannot accuse people without a proper investigation, especially when it’s a foreigner who is coming from a different place where we treat people of colour in a different way,” he said. So it was very easy to accuse someone.”

“I played with a player, and nobody knew him as Fernando Cáceres. Everyone knows him worldwide as Negro Caceres – even in the newspapers and on television they all him that. Is that racist? In England it is but in the rest of the world, in South America or Spain, it’s not.

“Tell me what you want. If you try to go to a point that doesn’t exist in the rest of the world, it’s going to be complicated.

“You think the rest of the world is wrong and you are right. Maybe it looks like you want the whole world to drive on the right hand side. Do you want that?

In the words of Sepp Blatter, when it comes to racism, then yes, a policy of “zero tolerance” is what is wanted.

Until Poyet clarifies his remarks it would be charitable to point out that English is not his first language and that certain nuances in his comments may have been lost. Until then though, one has to conclude that his defence for Suarez rests on a belief that it is acceptable to racially abuse a person, provided such abuse is commonplace in one’s own country.

Of Evra, Poyet is scathing, suggesting the Frenchman should be more resilient when confronted by verbal abuse

“I played for seven years in Spain and was called everything because I was from South America,” he said. And I never went out crying like a baby, like Patrice Evra, saying that someone said something to me.”

More fool you.

Stop that crying…

On the subject of Uruguayans and crying, here’s some footage of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini telling striker Edinson Cavani to stop crying.

After clashing during Italy’s friendly international against Uruguay, Chiellini, who in the absence of Marco Materazzi has spotted a gap in the market for a no-nonsense/psychopathic bad guy, was seen mouthing “You’re always crying, stop crying!”

Nipped in the bud

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has dismissed a proposal by Barcelona president Sandro Rosell to reduce the league to 16 teams.

Rosell’s suggested the major European leagues should be reduced to 16 clubs in order to enable the bigger clubs to play more lucrative friendly matches and increase the number of Champions League games.

Scudamore said: “Well, that’s very nice of him to issue that as a statement but that’s a very Barcelona-centric view.

“Our clubs have no view to be playing European football on a weekend.”

He added: “European football is a midweek competition and domestic football is a weekend competition.”

Let’s hope that’s the last we hear about that little plan.

Worst injury ever

Bayern Munich attacker Arjen Robben has revealed the groin problem which has kept him out of action since early October is the worst injury he’s ever had in his career.

Robben, a master of understatement, told Bild: “I’ve had my fair share of injuries, but I’ve never experienced something like this. This was the worst injury in my life.

“It’s impossible to imagine how bad it was. I had a lot of pain and the recovery process was very hard.”

So, worse than the broken toe nail that kept him sidelined for several weeks when he was at Chelsea, and even more painful than the split ends he suffered at Real Madrid? It must be really serious.

Goal of the day

Santos’ equaliser in their 1-1 draw at Atletico GO was Paulo Henrique Ganso’s left foot strike from the edge of area.

Keen as mustard

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni had his favourite tube of wasabi confiscated by over-zealous North Korean customs officials before the countries World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

“They took away his tube of wasabi at the airport and he didn’t get it back,” Japan Football Association (JFA) president Junji Ogura told Nikkan Sports.

“He always asks for wasabi and prefers the cheap (100 yen – $1.30) tube to the expensive stuff,” added Ogura, noting Zaccheroni had eaten little but bread for three days in Pyongyang.

“I apologised to him for there being no wasabi after the game.”

Record breakers

Brisbane Roar are set to equal Australian club sport’s greatest unbeaten run of 35 matches.

The Roar can match the 74-year-old record of rugby league’s Eastern Suburbs with a win or draw on Saturday when they travel to Newcastle to play the hungry Jets.

Coach Ange Postecoglou has encouraged rivals to emulate the A-League champions’ attacking attitude.

“The reality is our players walk off the pitch having five or six times more touches than the opposition.

“I’m sure our players enjoy playing that game more, it improves them as footballers and I’d like to think it’s better to watch.

“Every game we play, we go for a win and I’m sure other clubs will emulate that attitude and stamp their own style on it.”

The Roar currently top A-League standings, and if there was a league table for smugness, they would be runaway leaders in that too.

The end is nigh…

David Beckham’s five-year stay in America could soon be at end. Sunday’s MLS cup final featuring Beckham’s LA and Houston could be the former England captain’s final game for Galaxy.

There remains a chance Beckham could stay with Galaxy, while French club Paris Saint-Germain confirmed last week that they were in “discussions” over the possibility of signing him.

Beckham himself has been giving nothing away about his future plans.

“I’m concentrating on this game on Sunday – simple as that,” Beckham said on Thursday. “My decision will come after that, once I get a bit of a rest and see where I am. And then we’ll see. My concentration is on this game.”

While Beckham’s off-field value is considerable, many, including France coach Laurent Blanc, UEFA president Michel Platini, have suggested his contribution on the field would be negligible.

The latest voice to express concern about Beckham is PSG  defender, Sylvain Armand, who questioned  whether 36-year-old had much to offer at the highest level.

He told CFoot: “I don’t really want him to join. He will come for our image and it’s good to play with a world star, but then on the field…”

One person who was happy to enthuse about Beckham the person, is his former team-mate at Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane.

“Before getting to know him I had the same impression as everyone else, the one that you see through the media,” he said.

“But after that, during our three years together in the same team, I found out what a great person he is, who does not look to blame others for his mistakes.”

Tackle of the week

From this week’s World Cup qualifier, UAE’s Abbas Ali momentarily forgets what game he’s playing as he grapples with Kuwait’s Bader Al Mutawa.

Finally…

Nigeria Premier League (NPL) side, Ocean Boys have sacked 17 players following an eventful season that saw them escape relegation on the final day.

“Management (of Ocean Boys) decided to take the decision because some players were simply not productive enough,” media chief of Ocean Boys, Eddy Ohis told SuperSport.com.

“How can you explain a situation where a striker will go through an entire season of 38 matches without scoring a single goal. It is just unacceptable.”

Try telling that to Fernando Torres.

It’s been a peculiar season in Nigeria. The campaign was originally supposed to start 25 September 2010, was then delayed to 2 October. However after a series of meetings and threatened lawsuits, the league announced that it would play with 24 teams, including the four teams relegated from the previous season.

That idea was abandoned by the NPL on October 7 and the league returned to 20 teams,but the start of the season was delayed again to start the weekend of 23 October, and then again to 6 November because of issues with referees.

There was then a six-week break for elections and the season was finally concluded this week after another six-week delay to allow for the Federation Cup and teams playing on the continent to concentrate on their fixtures.

  • Lesiba. South Africa

    To add to the Nigerian incidents, the recently crowned champions could not receive their prize money because the league is run without a sponsor. This can only happen in Africa.

  • Calum Leahy

    Although Poyet’s comments might not have been articulated very well you have completely missed the point he was trying to make. In South America it is not considered racist to refer to someone by their colour, that is the difference. He is not saying it’s acceptable to racially abuse someone at all.