Today in sports: FIFA president Sepp Blatter is again being called on to resign after saying racism in soccer is "no big deal," two more baseball teams will make the playoffs next year, and Franco Harris no longer speaks for the Meadows Race Track and Casino.
- FIFA president Sepp Blatter is again hearing calls for his resignation after telling CNN that racism in soccer "no big deal" and then telling Al Jazeera that any racial slurs should be "forgotten" at the end of the match. The bulk of the outcry is coming from England, where national team captain John Terry is currently being investigated by FIFA and police over a racial slur he directed at Anton Ferdinand in a game last month and Liverpool's Luis Suarez was recently charged with making "a reference to the ethnic origin" of Manchester United's Patrice Evra, who is black. Gordon Taylor, the head of the UK's Pro Footballers' Association, called the comments "very insensitive and inappropriate," while Prime Minister David Cameron called the remarks "appalling" and called on Blatter to resign. (Blatter and Cameron have history. In June, Cameron called Blatter's reelection as FIFA president "a farce." The prime minister was also part of the delegation that made an unsuccessful pitch for the UK to be awarded the 2018 World Cup and called the whole process unimpressive and "murky.") Blatter has made things worse by trying to explain what he really meant to say on Twitter, which is never a good strategy, especially when you start getting huffy with individual users who criticize you. It should be noted Blatter has managed to keep his job for 13 years, despite saying gay fans should "refrain from sexual activity" during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, speculating that the women's game would be more popular if the players wore tighter shorts, an attempt to bribe officials to vote for his ouster earlier this year, and general outrage over the legitimacy and transparency of international soccer under his watch. [The Daily Mail]
- Major League Baseball's postseason will take an extra wild card team from each league, possibly starting as early as next year. It's unclear how exactly a playoff system with five teams in each league would work from a scheduling perspective, but commissioner Bud Selig promises it will be "dramatic." We're not sure what he means by that, but think it's reasonable to assume that whatever it is, it will be brought to us by Visa and Budweiser. [USA Today]
- Baseball owners also approved the sale of the Houston Astros to Jim Crane, despite the fact his companies have been charged with war profiteering and discriminatory hiring practices. A source says MLB told Crane it would only approve his bid if he went along with a plan to move the team to the American League in 2013. Apparently he agreed, but not before current owner Drayton McLane reduced the purchase price of the club from $680 to somewhere in the neighborhood of $610 million. [Houston Chronicle]
- Former Penn State running back Franco Harris is now a former western Pennsylvania casino greeter following his less-than-sensitive comments last week criticizing the school's decision to fire Joe Paterno over the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse allegations. Officially, the Meadows Race Track and Casino, which hired Harris last month to "assist the entertainment facilities with various outreach activities" says the former Nittany Lions and Steelers great's employment is just "on hold at this time." But we wouldn't count on palling around with Franco at the craps table anytime this century. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
- The Philadelphia Eagles were preseason favorites to go to the Super Bowl, but they've got a 3-6 record, and coaches and players are facing fierce Philadelphia-style scrutiny. First-year defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, who was curiously chosen to lead the defense after a decade spent coaching Philadelphia's offensive line, is a popular punching bag on the blogosphere and on talk radio, but at least the man is working hard. How hard. Head coach Andy Reid told reporters that Castillo puts in 22 hour days, which seems like a stretch. Though considering how much NFL coaches love to talk about getting to the office no later than 3 a.m. and only seeing their kids at graduations, weddings, and the occasional court appearance, it may very well be true. [Philadelphia Daily News]