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Blatter: 'Racism controversy closed'

Story highlights

  • Sepp Blatter has said he considers the recent racism controversy closed
  • FIFA president suggested last week on-field racism could be settled with a handshake
  • Blatter says he felt hurt by the widespread criticism he received

FIFA president Sepp Blatter claimed on Wednesday he has apologized enough for remarks he made last week regarding on-field racism in football, with the Swiss saying he now considers the matter "closed."

The head of world soccer's governing body was heavily criticized for comments he made in an interview with CNN, where he suggested racism between players on the pitch could be settled with a handshake.

Blatter, speaking at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) headquarters in Malaysia, reaffirmed his stance against discrimination, saying he was hurt by the accusations which were leveled against him.

"I can only say this item for me is closed," the 75-year-old told a press conference. "There is no tolerance (of) racism. I have been interpreted as such and I have made my apologies. I cannot say anything more.

"There is no discrimination in my feelings, there is no racism, nothing at all. This matter for me is over. We go forward. There is zero tolerance (for) racism, zero tolerance (for) discrimination in all activities in the field of play and outside the field.

"[I was] very much hurt by these comments because it touched me in my conscience and my determination to go against racism."

    It has been a turbulent 18 months for FIFA, with allegations of bribery and corruption surrounding the presidential election which saw Blatter voted in unopposed for a fourth term as the organization's chief in June.

    Former AFC head Mohammad Bin Hammam was due to be one of Blatter's opponents in the ballot, but the Qatari has since received a lifetime ban from football for alleged corruption during his presidential campaign.

    Bin Hammam is challenging his ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport and Blatter declined to comment on whether there was a way back into FIFA for the former executive committee member.

    "We will wait for the outcome of the next step," said Blatter.