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Rod Liddle

Now even Fifa’s dinosaurs have learned to cry racism

You know an accusation has been stripped of all meaning when Sepp Blatter starts using it

14 June 2014

8:00 AM

14 June 2014

8:00 AM

Are all white women really prostitutes who should be avoided, as some children at those schools in Birmingham were apparently informed? This is obviously a delicate, if not rather fraught, area and one should tread carefully for fear of giving offence. I have given the matter a lot of thought and have tried to fashion a sort of middle way, amenable to both sides in the debate.

So, while everyone might agree that white women are to be avoided wherever possible, it seems to me to be overstating the case to characterise them all as prostitutes. I am not even certain that one could reasonably describe ‘most’ white women as being prostitutes. The Queen, for example, is not a prostitute, and nor, to my knowledge, is the Cambridge professor of classics, television’s Mary Beard. Several white women of my acquaintance are not prostitutes either, and one begins to wonder where such figures might have come from. (The school in question denies that any comments of this nature were made at all.)

Perhaps, then, in lieu of official statistics on the matter, ‘a substantial minority of white women are prostitutes, and all of them are to be avoided’ strikes the right sort of balance, upon which Muslim teachers and the feminists can agree. Indeed, that blanket derogation as applied to ‘all’ white women strikes me as, well, frankly borderline racist. But I am loth to use that term, as it has become so devalued of late. Indeed, as soon as I hear the word ‘racist’ bandied around I immediately suspect that whoever is doing the bandying has already lost the argument and is climbing into a bunker which he or she believes is impregnable, impossible to assail. It’s the real-life equivalent of the Get Out Of Jail Free card and has been effectively stripped of all meaning.

As evidence for that assertion above, I would refer you to the president of the body which governs world football, a Swiss gentleman called Sepp Blatter. Now I have already been racist in that very sentence, according to some people, by referring to Mr Blatter’s nationality when it is not directly relevant to the remainder of what I am about to say. In my defence I would argue that I thought you’d like to know where the chap’s from, if you were not already aware. But if you found the fact that I identified him as ‘Swiss’ offensive, I apologise.

Anyway, Sepp Blatter, who I firmly believe to be one of the most ghastly Europeans alive, has called me racist and possibly you racist, too. He has climbed, hands over his head, into the bunker. As I reported in this column last week, the process which resulted in Qatar being awarded the right to host the 2022 World Cup is alleged to have been corrupt on a quite epic level, reportedly involving a Qatari bunging various mostly African delegates vast bungs of money to secure their votes for this open, free, democratic and multi-party desert paradise. The Qatar bid committee denies any wrongdoing, and it is the reporting of this business and the horrible aspersions cast upon these fine and upstanding African citizens that Mr Blatter regards as ‘racist’.

If ever you wondered that this term has become devalued, hearing it uttered by Sepp Blatter is pretty much the clincher, I reckon. One of Sepp’s closest allies at Fifa was the former vice president, another unspeakably awful man called Julio Grondona, an Argentinian. Asked why there were so few Jewish referees kicking around, Grondona said: ‘I do not believe a Jew can ever be a referee at that level because it’s hard work and, you know, Jews don’t like hard work.’ Sepp seemed perfectly happy with this insightful analysis from his mate.

Incidentally, Grondona also voted for Qatar to host the World Cup. Asked by a German why he hadn’t voted for the USA, he said that would not be possible, because it was akin to voting for England, and he wouldn’t do that until we’d handed the ‘Malvinas’ back. Yes, yes, he seems a lovely chap, all things considered.

Blatter is unpleasant, but he is not an idiot: he has learned. Only a couple of years back he was shocked by the controversy whipped up over here when he suggested that racist abuse, when it occurs on a football pitch, should be settled with a simple shake of the hands between the players involved. He had not expected the fury which consequently engulfed him, with every anti-racist body in the UK (and a good few beyond) screaming that the Fifa president was making light of racism and therefore setting a shocking example and that any incidence of racism on a football pitch should be subject to a full judicial inquiry, an investigation by the police, and punishment meted out by a properly trained and non-racist firing squad, and the body of the perpetrator consensually dismembered and put on display as a warning to others.

It clearly registered in his brain that in western Europe, and particularly the UK, simply to raise the accusation of racism — regardless or not of whether that accusation is complete and utter hogwash — is sufficient to cleanse oneself of a multitude of sins, such is its weird and deranging force. Mr Blatter is now insisting that it is racist even to accuse he African delegates of pocketing large bungs. The last recourse.

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