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Same old, same old as Sepp Blatter bids for re-election as FIFA president

Ahmed Osoble
ANALYST
Modified 14 Sep 2014
Feature
Not all bad: Sepp Blatter loves football and is no fool, but has too much power

Implore Google to provide search results relating to the numerous gaffes made by FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the sheer volume of legitimate results are staggering. For a global organisation which proclaims itself to exist “For the Good of the Game,” Blatter is almost the total contradiction.

Blatter’s despot reign as FIFA president has been beset by controversy. From suggesting racism was no longer a prominent issue in football to claiming adultery was viewed as acceptable in “some Latin countries”, the list of the 78 year-old’s mis-judgements are lengthy and unimpressive.

The Swiss president spoke of “continuing a mission” by standing for re-election and a potential fifth term as FIFA’s sovereign ruler at the SoccerEx Global Football Convention conference staged in Manchester in a secret ballot on May 13 in Zurich but he can hardly be regarded seriously. He reiterated his unerring desire to spark global reform through football but his dreams of a Nobel Peace Price labour to be taken seriously.

UEFA president Michel Platini had represented his most menacing opponent but the Frenchman has ruled out competing for the vaunted position, leaving Blatter to inflict four more years of hurt as head of football’s governing body.

It is risible that Blatter will be shorn of a strong rival in Zurich to challenge for the FIFA presidency. The reasoning behind Platini’s decision to withdraw from contention is yet unclear but the prospect of a Blatter re-election is certainly the opposite.

No fool but excessively mis-judgemental

On too many instances, Blatter has been too ridiculous and scandalous, displaying moments of sheer illogic. The 78 year-old implored for post-match handshakes to compensate for racial slurs and risibly suggested racism had been forced extinct in the football world, trivialising the admirable graft of campaign groups such as Kick It Out.

He used the word “slavery” in the context of Cristiano Ronaldo’s £80 million move from Manchester United to Real Madrid and, in reaction to the Wayne Bridge-John Terry affair, claimed Terry “would have been applauded in some Latin countries”.

Yet he is wily and sagacious, almost certain to secure re-election. He loves the game, striving to connect with each and every football federation, Mauritius and Somalia included as his Twitter feed would denote. The inexplicable errors are interwoven with gestures worthy of adulation, striving, as he confirmed at the SoccerEx conference, to strike reconciliation between Palestine and Israel. It is all part of “his mission”.

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His support of Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup is unerring, insisting that the prestigious tournament would not be switched to a more convenient month with the its timing threatening to derail and heavily disrupt the European league season.

Even after the admirable Sunday Times investigation into the bidding process which resulted in a Qatari victory, Blatter is unflinching, though conceding it was a “mistake” to award a the tournament to Qatar. “It was a mistake of course, but one makes lots of mistakes in life,” he said. “The technical report into Qatar said clearly it was too hot but the executive committee – with a large majority – decided all the same to play it (World Cup) in Qatar.”

The Sunday Times’s findings implied Qatar had earned the right to host the world illegally but if Blatter had say, been aware of the irrevocable consequences of a Qatari victory, most prominently the intense heat, the reasoning behind the award is unclear. The Swiss FIFA president confessed he and the FIFA executive committee had been warned by the organisation’s technical report but they proceeded to vote for Qatar.

There is no suggestion that, if the Sunday Times’s commendable findings are valid, Blatter was aware of corruption within the FIFA hierarchy but his latest comments contribute to the ambiguity and the plethora of conspiracy theories.

Published 14 Sep 2014, 21:32 IST
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