Thursday, 17 November 2011

Blatter: You're Fired

That Sepp Blatter doesn't half know how to makes things worse for himself. The day after the esteemed Fifa President's ill-judged comments that suggested victims of racial abuse on the football field should simply shake hands and forget about it, the Twitter feud with Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand on Thursday dragged ex-Robben Island prisoner Tokyo Sexwale into the debate.

Tipped as a candidate to take on President Jacob Zuma for the leadership of the ANC at next year's centenary conference, the man who can trace his unusual first name back to a childhood love of karate films now finds himself a central character in a real tragi-comedy.

Sexwale is well used to the limelight having appeared in the Sir Alan Sugar role in South Africa's version of The Apprentice (he famously refused to say the 'you're fired' catchphrase because he argued he hadn't hired them in the first place...) but nothing could have prepared him for this kind of situation.

The former head of the Valaisan Tourist Board has used plenty of dirty tricks in the past to cover his back but using his supposed friendship with a man who was instrumental in the struggle against apartheid is about as low as it gets. And having risen to Ferdinand's bait by even suggesting the son of St Lucian and English parents (and someone who went to school with murdered black teeenager Stephen Lawrence) was the racist for using the phrase 'black man' in his tweet, Blatter dug the hole even deeper.

Respected SABC broadcaster Velile Mbuli summed up how black South Africans felts about the situation with his message to Blatter on Twitter yesterday: "Given our background of being colonized here in Africa & incidents we've suffered we very disappointed at your statement Sir!" He's certainly not the only one who feels like that around the world - black or white.

Incredibly given the number of respected figures from football and beyond who have expressed their utter dismay at Blatter's comments, there's no reason to suspect that he actually be held to account for his actions. L'Equipe's decision to relegate the story down to a few paragraphs on page seven of today's paper and a similar attitude across much of mainland Europe's media means that Fifa can maintain their holier-than-thou attitude from the safety of their offices in Zurich and Sepp will remain in situ.

But surely there could be another way? If all of Fifa's member associations publicly stated their opposition to Blatter's comments and demand that he resigns immediately, then perhaps the weight of pressure would finally see the old man fall on his sword?

Or maybe we could just call in Sir Alan Sugar instead.

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