FIFA’s Sepptic Dictator
In some kind of weird parallel universe, where he is not the head of FIFA, Sepp Blater could almost be likeable. Somewhat comparable to that annoying, inebriated Uncle who manages to get a few cheap laughs making inappropriate remarks about your new girlfriend’s bust size, which is then followed by a silence so uncomfortable you’d have thought someone had accidently leant on the Christmas lunch mute button. But jovial likeability aside, it would be better if the most powerful sporting association on the planet was not led by a rogue who so freely speaks his mind, particularly when the opinions he offers are a freshly shaken cocktail made of two parts ignorance & one part insensitivity – served in a long ball over freshly crushed corruption.
Despite a commendable focus placed by football’s governing bodies to stamp racism out of the game, Blatter has gone and poured gasoline on the hot coals of two highly provocative incidents that have recently occurred on the football pitch. Following the allegation that Luis Suarez called Patrice Evra a “nigger” about 10 times in 2 minutes and that John Terry purportedly called Anton Ferdinand “a f****** black c***”, Blatter has made the outrageous claim that there is “no racism in football.” He even went on to say that if there was “a word or gesture that is not the correct one” it should be dealt with on the pitch using the timeless mediation of a shake of hands. Clearly Sepp is showing himself to be a man that possesses the cultural sensitivity of a burning cross.
Since making this controversial statement, Blatter has been back peddling faster than my Betfair balance, firstly by saying his statement was taken out of context then later apologising with the sincerity of an unrepentant school bully. But Sepp’s sorry is all too late as his flaming comments have reduced FIFA’s anti-racism foundations to little more than a very culturally aware pile of ashes.
This is far from the first time Sepp’s been forced into clarification & apology mode. In fact, it happens so regularly that FIFA might be better off prefixing every Blatter interview with a warning stating that ‘the following content may offend some viewers’. When asked the very practical question of how a homosexual football fans might be able to enjoy a round of hide the sausage at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a country where homosexual acts are illegal, he pointed out that the gay community were more than welcome to enjoy football’s biggest showpiece but also added with a hearty chuckle that “they should refrain from any sexual activity”. Sure, your money and your fabulous clothes are welcome, but please check your sexuality at the door.
So, if Uncle Sepp has managed to completely alienate anyone who has ever been racially abused as well as the homosexual community, then it goes without saying that he has annoyed the fairer sex at some point. Blatter has actually done on a number of occasions, my personal favourite being when he referred to the International Olympic Committee’s lack of financial transparency by saying “the IOC does it (accounting) like a housewife”. Obviously Mrs Blatter has whipped out the credit card on more than a few occasions without disclosing the details of her purchases to hubby. But that statement was just the tip of Sepp’s misogynistic iceberg. When applying his governing wisdom to the realm of women’s football, that incorrigible rascal suggested the players “wear tighter shorts and low cut shirts” to attract more male fans. Whilst it would make women’s football far more appealing to simple folk such as myself, these are not the sentiments that should be uttered by the Don of Football Admin.
These horrible gaffs would not be tolerated by a democratically elected world leader, save for a media controlling Italian Billionaire, yet somehow Sepp manages to evade accountability. The worst part of this continuing saga of embarrassment for FIFA is that Blatter was recently re-elected to his post in an uncontested manner, extending his Presidential reign into its 13th year. This occurred despite the complete distrust of the general public, particularly in regards to corruption and the appointment of the next 2 world cups in ridiculously wealthy, oil rich nations whose liquid gold has apparenty greased the right palms.
It is worth adding that the claims of corruption surrounding these World Cup bids were dealt with in a swift manner by Blatter and the FIFA executive committee, who ousted Mohammad bin Hammam (pictured with Sepp, no that is not Lando Calrissian) of Qatar on charges of accepting bribes. Not surprisingly bin Hammam was the only person willing to challenge Blatter’s leadership, although he withdrew from the presidential election just days before it took place. With the swift Soprano-esque removal of his only rival, we learned the fate of those willing to challenge the status quo inside the house of FIFA.
With the International Rugby Board issuing fines for the French forming an arrow formation when faced with a war dance or fining players for wearing the wrong coloured underpants, sports ruling bodies appear to be in a race to the gutter of public opinion. But through the never ending blunders from their man at the helm, FIFA manages to be a beacon in a sea of incompetence. It’s not like he makes up for his verbal insensitivities with a range of shrewd decisions that lead to the betterment of football. Under Sepp’s reign, the game has failed to follow the lead of other sports and appease those who crave fairness through the introduction of goal line technology.
I am not the first person to call for Sepp’s head and unfortunately I will not be the last. But despite constant public pressure and even the likes of the English FA trying to shake Sepp from his lofty branch, very little seems to happen. His reign borders on a dictatorship, and with uprisings aplenty round the world and long term leaders being removed from their posts, there is no reason that football fans should be left wanting.
Blatter really needs to step aside from his FIFA position and consider an operation to have his foot permanently removed from his mouth. As we head toward the festive season, there is little doubt that Blater’s jolly nature would better be utilized with a big white beard, a flat lap and cherry red suit as opposed to governing sport’s most esteemed ruling body.