Britain up in arms, rest of world says little
For two days, Britain has been up in arms over Sepp Blatter.
Senior government officials, players, coaches and newspapers have called for the FIFA president to resign as the head of world football's governing body, and coverage of his comments about racism in the game has been nearly around the clock on television.
Outside the country, the collective reaction has been muted or even nonexistent.
''I'm quite bemused by the response of the people in other parts of the world,'' said David Skinner, a sociology lecturer at the Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. ''There are certainly some parts of the world where it's deemed to be perfectly acceptable to racially abuse people.''
From the top politician in Britain to David Beckham, Blatter has faced huge criticism in the country since claiming that racist abuse does not exist on the football field and that any racial incidents could be settled by a handshake at the end of a match.
Although Blatter said Friday that he was sorry if his words offended anyone, he stopped short of retracting what he said Wednesday night in a pair of television interviews.
And in the wake of Blatter's statements, many national football federations refused to even talk about the topic.
The Swedish football federation said it could not comment, while the Argentines also declined to speak. The Greek federation didn't even want to go on the record as saying ''No comment,'' and the Germans held an internal meeting before deciding they wouldn't say anything, either.
Although many wanted to stress that they were against any form of racism, the respective media in a lot of those countries and others have also pushed the incident aside. Daily sports newspapers L'Equipe and La Gazzetta dello Sport barely covered the news that is making big headlines in Britain - and prompted both Beckham and British Prime Minister David Cameron to speak out.
''The comments were appalling. A lot people have said that,'' Beckham said in Los Angeles, where the Galaxy are preparing for the MLS championship game. ''I don't think that the comments were very good for this game.''
One prominent former player from mainland Europe refused to comment on Blatter's remarks, and refused to even go on the record as not commenting. The former great, who has competed in the World Cup, the European Championship and won more than one European Cup, told The Associated Press ''I don't want to be involved in it.''
Luis Aragones, the former Spain coach who led the team to the Euro 2008 title, also declined to comment.
In 2004, Aragones used a racist remark about France striker Thierry Henry to motivate one of his players. Soon after, monkey chants rained down on England's black players during a friendly against Spain in Madrid.
Some have spoken out, including black South African government minister who was pictured with Blatter on the FIFA website shortly after Wednesday's interviews.
''You can't wash it (racism) away with a handshake,'' said Sexwale, an anti-apartheid campaigner and former political prisoner on Robben Island. ''Once you use a racial slur, it doesn't go away. You can't exchange it with a jersey. You can't mitigate it with a handshake.''
Former France player Lilian Thuram, who is black and has often spoken out against racism in football, said he saw no reason why Blatter should resign over his comments.
''(Blatter) could have said it because he doesn't realize how much it hurts,'' Thuram said. ''But, I have to say that I know Mr. Blatter and that he is against racism.''
Reaction has also been muted from FIFA sponsors, who pay millions of dollars to have their names associated with the World Cup. Although some, including Coca-Cola and Visa, issued anti-racism statements, none spoke out against Blatter's comments.
There are several reasons why Blatter's latest gaffe has caused such an uproar in Britain.
For one, the country has worked hard to try and stamp racism out of the game since the 1980s. And for another, a pair of current investigations into alleged racial abuse by Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and Chelsea captain John Terry have also made headlines.
In addition, anti-Blatter sentiment has been high in Britain since England's failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup and a corruption scandal in the run-up to Blatter's re-election earlier this year which battered FIFA's reputation.
But Skinner said another reason why it's a bigger deal in Britain could be because people here sometimes relate the abuse on the field to something that could happen at anyone's workplace.
''If you racially abused a colleague there would be serious consequences associated with that and it would be seen as unacceptable,'' Skinner said. ''Maybe that's a way of thinking that perhaps you wouldn't get in other parts of the world.''
John Solomos, a sociology professor at City University in London, said the issue is bigger in Britain because of the years it took to tackle racism.
''I'm not sure the issue is not that important in other countries, but it seems to be there is not the same amount of intervention or activism in other countries, perhaps, as there has been in this country,'' Solomos said. ''When you watch European football games and abuse is thrown at players, there seems to be less action taken against this than there would be in this country.''