Reacting to Russian Premier League club Torpedo Moscow being handed its fourth racism-related punishment of the season Tuesday, the head of world soccer's governing body said on Twitter that "sanctions must be applied but education is equally important."
Torpedo has to play two games behind closed doors over the display of a Nazi symbol at a match Sunday, following three earlier punishments this season for fans racially abusing opposition players.
Blatter praised the Russian Football Union's decision to create the post of an anti-racism inspector — with the first dedicated official appointed last month — saying it was "good to see" Russia take this step.
That official, Alexei Tolkachev, told Russia's Tass news agency on Wednesday that he had yet to start work because officials were still revising regulations to determine exactly what powers he would have. Tolkachev said he expects to assemble a staff which could start monitoring games by the end of the season.
Racism is damaging Russia's image and could hurt its relations with FIFA, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who also chairs Russia's World Cup organizing committee, suggested Wednesday.
"It's damaging to our image. And the international federations monitor all this and they say that we're preparing for the World Cup, but they've got the question of what could happen in 2018," he told R-Sport.
Mutko said racism in Russian league games was not necessarily an indicator of what could happen at the World Cup, due to different ticketing and security arrangements, "but even so, we are creating tension in the football environment."