BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) — Nigeria's African Cup-winning coach Stephen Keshi has been reported to FIFA for racism after he called Malawi's coach crazy and "a white dude" who should go back to his native Belgium.
Tom Saintfiet told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Football Association of Malawi had made the complaint to the world body on his behalf and they were "waiting for FIFA's response."
"I have no expectation from FIFA but the world football governing body has rules on racism," Malawi coach Saintfiet said. "It's up to FIFA to decide."
The row began when Saintfiet expressed safety concerns over Nigeria's southern city of Calabar, the venue for a decisive World Cup qualifier between the countries next month. Saintfiet was citing a British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advisory that described Calabar as a no-travel area because of fears of terrorism and violent crime. Malawi requested FIFA move the game.
In response to Saintfiet's doubts over Calabar, Keshi reportedly said on an African TV show that the Malawi coach, who has previously worked with the Namibia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Nigeria national teams, didn't know about Africa because he was white.
"If he wants to talk to FIFA, he should go back to Belgium. He is not an African person, he is a white dude. He should go back to Belgium," Keshi said. "All other countries play in Calabar. Calabar is one of the safest places in Nigeria ... He is mad. I wish I could say it to his face."
Malawi needs to win the game to knock the African champion out of World Cup qualifying and progress to the final playoffs for Brazil 2014.
FIFA toughened its punishments for racism at its recent annual conference in Mauritius in May after incidents in England and Italy where black players were targeted, but a white coach accusing a black coach of racism is rare.
"If FIFA takes racism seriously, then you have to take it seriously in both directions," Saintfiet, who is coaching Malawi on a voluntary basis and does not earn a salary, told the BBC. "If a European said something of this nature about an African, you would have a huge problem. I am against racism in all directions."
Saintfiet also continued to cast doubt on the safety of Calabar after the Nigeria Football Federation gave FIFA a written guarantee that the Sept. 7 match would be secure. The NFF said the teams and match officials would be accompanied by police escorts and bomb squads would be deployed at hotels, training grounds and the 12,000-seat stadium.
"If they have to provide anti-bomb squads that means there is a problem," Saintfiet told AP.