LOS ANGELES – Count David Beckham among the many big names in politics and global soccer who have been taken aback by FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s controversial comments on racism in the game.
“I think the comments were appalling,” the LA Galaxy midfielder said at Thursday’s MLS Cup 2011 press conference. “I think a lot of people have said that. I don’t think the comments were very good for this game.”
Blatter has taken a considerable amount of heat for claiming in an interview with CNN that “there is no racism on the pitch” in soccer.
The issue has come back to the fore in the wake of recent cases of alleged racial slurs being uttered by big-name players during matches. Liverpool’s Luis Suárez and Chelsea’s John Terry have both faced scrutiny for separate instances.
Beckham said he took issue with Blatter’s comments that such instances sometimes happen over the course of a match and “at the end of the game, we shake hands.”
“It’s still there and can’t just be swept under the carpet and can’t just be sorted out just by handshake,” Beckham said. “It’s not the way of the world and not the way racism should be treated. It’s out there.”
The former England captain has long been involved in anti-racism campaigns within the sport, both at the club and international level. He first lent his support to the English FA-affiliated Kick It Out campaign, which was established in 1993.
Beckham's former Manchester United teammate Rio Ferdinand – among many others – has demanded that Blatter step down; however, Beckham declined to voice an opinion on Blatter's fate.
“I have no power with who goes and who stays within FIFA and I don’t wish to have that,” he said. “The comments, everyone has had their own opinions and I’m not going to say any more on it. Racism is something that we all want to keep [not only] out of sport, but life in general.”