As world football faces one of its most trying periods, the grand orchestrator behind it all, Sepp Blatter, just got re-elected into the hot seat of football’s most powerful position – the president of FIFA. This 79-year-old poor excuse for a leader has single-handedly managed to bring disgrace to the beautiful game over the years.
Even though a lot of what football stands for has gone to hell under the Swiss administrator’s watch, he still boasts of significant clout;so much so that you would be forgiven if you go so far as to compare him to classic James Bond villain Ernst Stravro Blofield. That being said, we take a look at the top five lows of Sepp Blatter’s reign as President of FIFA.
1) Corruption leads to Qatar winning rights to host the 2022 World Cup
FIFA’s decision to award the hosting of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar is perhaps the biggest blot of Blatter’s tenure as FIFA’s chief. The decision of selecting Qatar as the host nation surprised many due to the high temperatures the country faces during June, which is usually the time football’s biggest competition is held. The World Cup has since been moved to the winter months which will disrupt football seasons around Europe and across the globe.
The lot who suspected that corruption played a major part in FIFA’s decision to award the hosting to Qatar were proven right when a sting operation conducted by British newspaper The Sunday Times highlighted a strong possibility of unethical behaviour on the part of the majority of the 24-man executive committee.
Although Blatter couldn’t be directly implicated in the scandal, his image was largely dented for failing to detect the events that occurred right under his watch.
2) Views on Racism
Blatter offered a rather bizarre solution to the Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra racism row that shook the football world back in 2011. According to the Swiss, a serious instance of racism could be resolved with a simple handshake and went on record with his views in an interview with CNN who quoted him as saying: "I would deny it. There is no racism.
“There is maybe one of the players towards another - he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one. But the one who is affected by that, he should say: 'This is a game. We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands'. And this can happen, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.”
Needless to say Blatter’s comments caused an uproar in every corner of the football world, and caused the FIFA chief to release a statement of apology while also stating that his comments were taken ‘out of context’.
3) Bribery allegations in the 1998 FIFA Presidential Election
Blatter’s trail of corruption runs right back to the first time he got into the hot seat 17 long years ago. After long-time FIFA president Joao Havelange stepped down, Blatter, who was Havelange’s top administrator, declared himself in the running against Lennart Johansson, a FIFA vice-president from Sweden.
Johansson was a strong favourite for the post as he had the backing of numerous European and African nations, however Blatter pulled off the ultimate coup and won 111-80 in the first round forcing Johansson’s withdrawal and leaving the Swiss with football’s top job.
However, reports of bribes offered to African delegates at a hotel in Paris (where the election was held) to vote in favour of Blatter soon emerged. The Swiss shot down any allegations of corruption back in ‘98, but later stated in 2011 that he wasn’t present when the offers of bribery were made, so any allegations of him bribing his way to victory were baseless.
4) Sexist comments
Blatter has managed to irk just about everyone in football with his uncouth actions, including the sport’s women. The Swiss faced a lot of flak over a decade ago when he stated that women’s football would become more popular if the female athletes played in skimpier clothing – namely hot pants.
Blatter was quoted as saying: “Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men – such as playing with a lighter ball.
“That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?”
The FIFA chief’s comments caused outrage within the game’s female community, with many of the accusing Blatter of being the stereotypical male chauvinist. It wasn’t the first time Blatter irked football’s women and caused further outrage when he stated the football was a ‘macho game’ when questioned on why women weren’t given a bigger role in FIFA.
Finally, when Lydia Nsekera was elected on the FIFA executive committee, Blatter made another howler when he stated: “Say something ladies, you are always speaking at home, now you can speak here.”
5) Disrespecting the LGBT Community
After irking the sport’s men and women, Blatter even managed to tick off the LGBT community when he stated that gays shouldn’t indulge in any sexual activities at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal and was one of the 79 countries in the UN to voice their support for execution of gays.
When questioned on whether the presence of the LGBT community would face any problems in Qatar, Blatter jokingly replied: “I'd say they [gay fans] should refrain from any sexual activities.”
The Swiss’ comments caused outrage among countless gay rights groups with many of them demanding an apology and even called for his resignation.