By Rob Harris, AP
EDINBURGH, Scotland — FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced plans for a task force to tackle racism in football on Friday, and said he will hold talks with a player who took a stand by walking off in response to racial taunts.
AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng became the focus of the anti-racism struggle in football when he led teammates off the pitch in protest at abuse from fans of a fourth-tier Italian team during a friendly in January.
Blatter faced criticism for saying that players mustn’t run away from problems by unilaterally leaving the pitch, but later praised Boateng for taking a “strong and courageous stand.”
The Ghana midfielder will now make a courtesy visit to see Blatter at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on March 22.
Blatter also disclosed that a new anti-racism task force will be headed by CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, who’s in charge of football in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Blatter is calling for a “united front of the football community in our zero-tolerance policy against racism.”
“We have to work on it but we cannot do it alone,” Blatter said from Edinburgh. “It is a big, big problem also of education and understanding, and (needs) a little bit also of solidarity.
“But we will do it because we have to kick it out.”
Racism has appeared to be particularly prevalent again in English soccer in the past two years. There has been a spate of arrests for abuse at matches while Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and Chelsea captain John Terry served bans for racially abusing opponents.