FIFA, Russia to discuss racism and 2018 World Cup

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Associated Press

Posted on October 27, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Updated Sunday, Oct 27 at 3:02 PM

LONDON (AP) — FIFA's leadership will meet with 2018 World Cup organizers this week to discuss how racism can be eradicated from matches.

But FIFA President Sepp Blatter says Russia is not at risk of losing the tournament because of this matter. On Wednesday, Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure was subjected to abuse during an internationally televised Champion League game at CSKA Moscow.

"We are dealing now with actual problems," FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Sunday in London. "We are not dealing with the problems that may happen somewhere in the world. It is the question of racism today, and I'm dealing with that today."

Blatter's 27-member FIFA board includes the Russian sports minister, Vitaly Mutko. FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke will meet 2018 World Cup chief executive Alexey Sorokin on Monday and Tuesday to discuss measures to combat racism.

Blatter wants teams kicked out of competitions if there is sustained racist abuse by fans. But he sees no need to remove FIFA tournaments from nations blighted by racism in stadiums.

"You cannot take a whole competition out," he said. "It's impossible."

Blatter says it's not only soccer's responsibility to confront racism.

"I have to insist that racism and discrimination is in our society," Blatter said. "It's our society that brought it in football, and now we have to fight against that in our football. But we can only fight it in our football.

"We cannot go to any society where something happened and to ask them to stop. This is not the duty or the responsibility or even the right of FIFA to do so."

The more immediate and pressing concern for FIFA is the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Organizers are grappling with stadium issues and security challenges with less than eight months before the first game.

Just outside the World Cup host city of Natal in northeast Brazil, four fans were shot before a second division match Saturday. Supporters of America and Ceara confronted each other inside the stadium and police intervened with pepper spray and tear gas.

Also, Brazilian league leader Cruzeiro was ordered this week to play one home match away from its stadium disorder.

"It's not the first time there is violence around the stadium. ... it's a fact and it's happening in Brazil," Valcke said. "It's a huge country. Football is a passion and you cannot control everything. What I can say, when it's about the World Cup ... these kinds of things will not happen at the World Cup because we will have the highest level of security you can imagine."

In addition, FIFA is trying to resolve issues with Qatar 2022. Blatter will meet Qatar's emir in Doha on Nov. 9 concerning labor rights for construction workers. FIFA is still trying to determine when the World Cup can be played to avoid the tiny desert nation's searing summer heat.

"We have to work on a solution of all the problems," Blatter said when asked about the 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cups. "In football, we are victims ... of the popularity of this game. And this game, from time to time, you can also say, they make people a little bit mad because it's the game of the people."

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Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris

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