That Sepp Blatter!

This isn’t a good start. I was determined that everything on this site was going to be about Chelsea, but something caught my beady eye this morning and I just had to let off a little steam.

I promise you it’s Chelsea related though, albeit somewhat tenuously and with a generous dollop of Blue.

Does anyone pay attention to what Sepp Blatter has to say about the state of football these days? I bet you do, because like so many retired football referees these days – I’ll save that gem for another day – he likes to make the news about himself, rather than the football.

Well, Sepp, the chickens have come home to roost, so to speak, but more on this later. In the meantime, let’s do a quick run-down of the controversy surrounding this bastion of the game we all love, shall we?

Blatter was elected to the presidency of Fifa in 1998, but it didn’t pass as smoothly as I’m sure he would have liked because his election was surrounded by allegations that no less than 20 leading figures in football had accepted a gift of $50,000 (in envelopes no less) to smooth the path of Blatter’s accession to the presidency ahead of the incumbent, Lennart Johansson, running, somewhat ironically with hindsight, as the ‘honesty’ candidate.

Naturally Johansson dared suggest that there should be an investigation, but with Blatter in place and the autocracy now complete, it was refused. These allegations, incidentally, were published in a book that Blatter tried to ban.

In 2002, on the eve of Blatter’s re-election, a report was handed to Fifa executive committee by the then general secretary, Michel Zen-Ruffinen, accusing Blatter of systematically mismanaging the football world’s governing body by deception, illegal payments, statute violation and ‘cronysim’ since becoming elected in 1998. Zen-Ruffinen gave Blatter a week to respond or the matter would be in the hands of the Swiss authorities.

No further investigation was carried out, and Blatter was re-elected in late May 2002, surrounded by further allegations of bribes, this time to the African members of the federation.

At the 2006 World Cup final, Blatter’s absence from the prize podium was noted and widely criticised by the world’s sporting media. At the time it was suggested he’d gone into a sulk because Italy won instead of France. Bless.

Since 2007 Blatter has consistently and regularly referred to the English Premier League, the most popular league in the world, as one of the major problems in football. Additionally, as if he wasn’t already power-crazed, he’s also tried to directly change EU employment law by introducing quotas on foreign players. Oh, and back in 2004, Blatter was responsible for the implementation of bookings for player who remove their shirts during goal celebrations.

Should we talk about the Gael Kakuta fiasco? No, probably not, we’ve embarrassed the man enough already. I’m looking forward to that one being thrown back in the face of Fifa, as it most surely will, because in the Court for Arbitration in Sport we have an independent adjudicator, and that’s just not the rules that Blatter likes to play by.

Oh, why not, just one more.

So what caught my eye? This month it’s emerged that a very lucrative ticketing contract for next year’s World Cup has been awarded to a company called MATCH Hospitality, a company partly owned by a Swiss-based marketing company, Infront Sports & Media. The president and CEO of said marketing company is one Phillipe Blatter, son of Sepp.

Okay, so why the rant? Simple really. The News of the World and the Daily Mail are carrying out a thinly veiled yet systematic attempt to remove John Terry from the captaincy of England in favour of Wayne Rooney, largely because they seem to think that Terry has such low moral standards he shouldn’t be leading the nation’s team into the biggest football competition in the world.

It was the Mail, among others, who raised questions about Blatter back in 2002 yet they let it drop so very quickly. I find it ironic that so much evidence, and I use that term in the form they’d like us to swallow every time we read about football players in their papers, is stacked up against one man, yet he continues to be the leader of world football with abandon.

Just for once, I’d like the newspapers in this country to get on the side of the fans and go after a man who claims that what he does is in the interest of the game, yet all evidence points to the contrary. The News of the World can stop door-stepping Harry Redknapp the way they have for the last few years, and the Mail can direct it’s bitter ire elsewhere. Wouldn’t that be nice?

We all know it’s not going to happen though, and Blatter and his aforementioned cronies will continue to rule the roost, regardless of how many chickens come home.

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