FIFA President calls for tougher racism sanctions
© AFP

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter has reiterated the need for tougher sanctions to be used to combat racism, arguing that fines are not an effective deterrent.

Speaking at the FA's 150th anniversary gala dinner, he said: "We need to eliminate teams from a competition or deduct points. Only by such decisions is it possible to go against racism and discrimination. If we don't do that it will go on and go on. We have to stop it; we need the courage to do it."

The issue has been reignited in recent days after UEFA opened an investigation into complaints by Manchester City's Yaya Toure that he was racially abused  by CSKA Moscow fans. Jeffrey Webb, chairman of the FIFA Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination, has said he intends to meet Toure to discuss the incident.

President Blatter continued: "It has been decided by the Fifa congress that it is a nonsense for racism to be dealt with with fines. You can always find money from somebody to pay them. It is a nonsense to have matches played without spectators because it is against the spirit of football and against the visiting team. It is all nonsense.

"We can do something better to fight racism and discrimination. This is one of the villains we have today in our game. But it is only with harsh sanctions that racism and discrimination can be washed out of football."

His speech was given in front of 320 guests, largely from the the English game, and was keen to cover the heritage that has been accrued since the first football association was formed, recalling former and current figures from Stanley Matthews to current England coach Roy Hodgson.

It is only with harsh sanctions that racism and discrimination can be washed out of football.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter

Some of the great administrators were paid respect to as well, including former FIFA President and FA Chairman Stanley Rous. "During his time as FIFA President, Rous witnessed the crowning of England as Champions of the World in 1966. Sir Stanley will always be remembered for a major role in rewriting the Laws of the Game in 1938, making them simpler and easier to understand.

"FIFA’s 208 other associations are grateful for the outstanding achievements of the FA for the last 150 years. We hope that the FA continues to maintain this beautiful game, a game that is the tool for hope, for fair play and for respect around the world."

FA President HRH The Duke of Cambridge was also amongst the speakers at the event, spoke passionately about the wider potential of football. "There’s a lot of good that football can do around the world, and in this country.  But globally it is a huge force for good and a lot of people love, respect and enjoy their football more than anything else in their lives."

As part of the year of celebrations to commemorate the milestone anniversary a special game between Civil Service FC and Polytechnic FC, two of England's oldest amateur clubs, on the lawn of Buckingham Palace. Even with his connections, Prince William admitted it was a nervy wait to see if it could go ahead.

“There was one person I needed to get permission from – my grandmother. She was extremely supportive, but there was a little bit of a sweating moment for me having to ask her, with the possibility that her lawn might turn into a massive quagmire.”