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The Early Lead
Posted at 12:40 PM ET, 11/18/2011

Sepp Blatter says he’s sorry for remarks about racism in soccer


Sepp Blatter during a FIFA executive committee meeting Oct. 21. (Harold Cunningham / Getty Images)
FIFA President Sepp Blatter stopped short of an apology for his comments on racism and said he has no intention of resigning.

Blatter’s comments that racist abuse does not exist on a soccer field and that incidents could be settled by a postmatch handshake created an uproar with, among others, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Rio Ferdinand and David Beckham condemning them.

“I am sorry and I regret that my statements earlier this week have resulted in an unfortunate situation and has taken this dimension. I am committed to the fight against racism and I have no doubt about that,” Blatter said Friday in a BBC interview in Zurich.

“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 added. “It hurts and I am still hurting because I couldn’t envisage such a reaction.”

Blatter, 75, said he will not resign, despite a corruption scandal and, now, his comments. “I cannot resign,” he said. “Why should I resign? When you are faced with a problem you have to solve the problem. And to go out and to leave the organization, this would be unfair, this would be totally unfair and is not compatible with my fighting spirit, my character, my energy, my commitment.”

Blatter’s comments were particularly poorly received in Britain, where an investigation is underway into charges that Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and Chelsea defender John Terry racially abused black players during Premier League games. Blatter said that players guilty of racism should be thrown out of the game.

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

Soccer Insider: Beckham calls comments “appalling”

By  |  12:40 PM ET, 11/18/2011

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