David Beckham speaks out on racism
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Galaxy star and former England captain David Beckham strongly condemned FIFA president Sepp Blatter's comments downplaying racism in soccer at a news conference Thursday.
"I think the comments were appalling and I think a lot of people have said that," Beckham said. "I don't think the comments were very good for this game. There obviously is and has been racism throughout soccer and in life over the past few years but I do think, especially being around the England team and being around the (English Football Association), who do a lot of work with kicking racism out of the game, that it is still there and it can't just be swept under the carpet and it can't just be sorted out with a handshake afterwards.
"That's not how racism should be treated. We have to work hard to keep it out of the game and work hard to keep it out of life."
Blatter, who has a history of poorly received statements, told CNN on Wednesday, "There is no racism (problem in soccer), there is maybe one of the players towards another, he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one. But also the one who is affected by that -- he should say that this is a game. At the end of the game, we shake hands."
Blatter further dismissed the racism issue and its consequences on Al Jazeera: "During a match you may say something to someone who's not looking exactly like you, but at end of match it's forgotten."
Beckham spoke at a news conference ahead of Sunday's MLS Cup final between the Galaxy and Houston Dynamo.
When asked if Beckham would join the growing chorus of critics who say Blatter should resign the post he has held since 1998, Beckham was noncommittal. "I have no power with who goes and who stays within FIFA and I don't wish to have that," he said.
Beckham, 36, previously played for Real Madrid and Manchester United and was an ambassador for London's successful bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer writer for ESPN.com