November 18, 2011 - 15:53 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - FIFA president Sepp Blatter apologized Friday, November 18, for his "unfortunate comments" on racism in the game but rejected calls to resign as head of world football's governing body.
"It hurts and I am still hurting because I couldn't envisage such a reaction," Blatter told the BBC in an interview, admitting he had used "unfortunate words" which he "deeply regretted."
"When you have done something which was not totally correct, I can only say I am sorry for all those people affected by my declarations."
But when asked about calls from a British minister and others that he should quit for his remarks suggesting that disputes on the pitch involving racist abuse should be resolved by a handshake, he refused.
"I cannot resign. Why should I?" he told the BBC.
"When you are faced with a problem you have to face the problem. To leave would be totally unfair and not compatible with my fighting spirit, my character, my energy."
Blatter insisted however that he had a "zero tolerance" attitude towards racism in the game, and that any players found guilty of it on the pitch should be thrown out of the game.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also called the comments "appalling" and sports minister Hugh Robertson and the head of England's Professional Footballers' Association, Gordon Taylor, said Blatter should quit.
Blatter's initial comments came after Liverpool's Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez was charged by the English Football Association for allegedly racially abusing Manchester United's French international defender Patrice Evra.
England captain John Terry is also facing a police and FA investigation over allegations he hurled racist abuse at QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.
Blatter's remarks have sparked a storm in England, where he was already unpopular for the way in which he and FIFA dealt with the country's failed bid to stage the 2018 World Cup, AFP reported.