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Last Updated: Monday, 22 November, 2004, 08:58 GMT
England could have walked - Fifa
Sepp Blatter
Blatter says England would have been right to walk off in Spain
Fifa boss Sepp Blatter has admitted he would have supported England's players if they had walked off in the face of racial abuse against Spain this week.

"Such a movement I would have understood. I would have supported their walking off," Blatter told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek.

"We have to maintain discipline and respect on and off the field.

"When such a threat is in football in the future I think this would be a good remedy," he added.

A number of England players - notably Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips - were subjected to monkey chants at the Bernabeu.

"I was shocked and I am still shocked," said Blatter.

"I am sad about these new expressions of racism in a stadium that has been a temple of football and I cannot understand that, and I say in the name of Fifa, I apologise."

England captain David Beckham said the decision whether to walk off should not be made by the players.

"I think a decision like that is down to what the manager feels," he said.

"Of course we feel strongly about what happened and what goes on throughout the world but I think a lot was said last week and the relevant people are dealing with it."

Blatter said possible sanctions could include a ban for the Spanish football team.

But he denied that by allowing teams to walk off in protest at racism Fifa would be stirring up a hornet's nest, with fans of a losing team striking up abuse to have a game called off.

The great thing is that the debate on racism has moved forward
FA spokesman Adrian Bevington
"This would not be the case. This would be a matter we would never accept," he said.

"Let's be confident that by taking steps against such behaviour in the future we can avoid such situations."

The FA's head of media, Adrian Bevington, remained non-committal as to whether the England team might walk off if they are subjected to future racial abuse.

Bevington said: "Certainly it is something the FA in conjunction with the manager and the team will have to give consideration over forthcoming months.

"It's something that we hope we won't have to face in the future.

"There are diverse views within the dressing room as to whether it's best to beat the racists on the field of play or whether the best message is to walk off.

"The great thing is that the debate on racism has moved forward. We have to make that a positive, so we have a higher level of education and we are not faced by these problems in the future.

"I don't think it will be resolved in the next few days - it's something that needs serious consideration ."

Sports minister Richard Caborn applauded Blatter's comments.

"I welcome what Sepp Blatter said - he was very robust.

"I believe that the FIFA inquiry into what went on in Madrid should develop some type of solution to say how football deals with these incidents at matches in the future.

"I favour a formal arrangement where the fourth official has the responsibility to deal with racist abuse. It would be up to him to consult with the managers, issue a warning over the tannoy and advise the referee about whether the match should continue."

Interview: Fifa president Sepp Blatter

Interview: FA spokesman Adrian Bevington

Interview: England & Arsenal's Sol Campbell

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