Ferdinand in Twitter row with Blatter amid calls for resignation
Sepp Blatter became embroiled in an extraordinary internet row with former England captain Rio Ferdinand yesterday, as outrage over the Fifa president's remarks about racism in football intensified.
Footballers, managers, anti-racism campaigners and even British prime minister David Cameron united to condemn Blatter's comments, issued in two TV interviews on Wednesday, where he claimed racism was not a problem in football and that black players should remember it is "just a game" and "shake hands" with their abusers.
Blatter's desperate backtracking over his comments continued yesterday, when he conducted another television interview to highlight his desire to take the World Cup to South Africa last year, as well as his friendship with black delegates at Fifa as evidence he is not racist.
He also suggested his comments were misunderstood, despite the fact they were made in two separate television interviews.
But that attempt to douse the controversy failed to impress his critics in Britain, who found an unofficial ringleader in Ferdinand. The defender used Twitter to urge Blatter to step down.
In a reference to a picture posted by Blatter of the Swiss hugging Tokyo Sexwale, a South African politician and businessman who advises Fifa on race issues, the Manchester United defender said: "Fifa clear up the blatter comments with a pic of him posing with a black man..I need the hand covering eyes symbol!!
"To say what you said about racism in football spoke volumes of your ignorance on the subject. Your comments on racism are so condescending its almost laughable."
Remarkably, Blatter then responded with a tweet of his own at Ferdinand. He wrote: "The 'black man' as you call him has a name: Tokyo Sexwale. He has done tremendous work against racism and apartheid in Africa."
Ferdinand's outrage was mirrored by several players. On-loan Aston Villa player Jermaine Jenas attacked Blatter's "ignorant" views, while Birmingham manager Chris Hughton, one of only two black managers in English football, was stunned.
"What does concern me is that the head of our world organisation has probably had to make apologies on four, five or six occasions," said Hughton. "He almost seems untouchable."
Politicians added to the outrage, with Cameron calling Blatter's comments "appalling", while British sports minister Hugh Robertson called for Blatter to stand down immediately. (© Daily Telegraph, London)