Sepp Blatter, the man who runs FIFA as a part dictatorship – part clown college, is no stranger to controversy.
Whilst his comments about dealing with on-field racism with a handshake are entirely unacceptable, they should not be entirely unexpected. The man makes Boris Johnson look like a safe pair of hands. Here are 5 of his ‘finest’ moments as head of world football.
1) Keeping it in the family
Comparably small scale for Blatter, the nepotism he has shown his nephew in the awarding of lucrative TV contracts has been a constant feature of his reign. Tens of millions of pounds have been handed to Philippe Blatter, often dwarfing the budgets of many of FIFA’s own member’s budgets. Despite claiming that the president himself has no role in the process, investigations have found a total lack of accountability and transparency under his stewardship.
2) Plan for women to wear “tighter shorts” to improve popularity of the game.
With a brainwave coming straight out of the 17th century, Blatter thought it would be a good idea for female footballers to wear “more feminine” clothing to attract additional, presumably male, fans. The Swiss lothario, an unsurprising divorcee, urged women to adopt the ‘Kylie approach’ to success. Female players were, naturally, outraged.
3) Homosexuals should abstain in Qatar
Obviously unhappy about only infuriating females, Blatter then set about ostracising the gay community. Already under pressure for awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar (a country hardly on the right side of liberal), he decided to stoke tensions further by claiming homosexuals, “should refrain from any sexual activities”, to avoid cultural tensions.
How about just not awarding football’s premier event to a county that still has capital punishment, forced labour and a ban on homosexuality Mr Blatter?
4) World Cup voting corruption
It’s hard to know where to even begin with this one. FIFA’s never exactly been known for it’s transparent voting system but Blatter’s reign has heralded new levels of dishonesty. His 4 election victories have all been dogged by allegations of vote rigging and ‘cash-for-votes’ schemes but it was his most recent success that sparked the perfect storm of controversy. Standing unopposed after his only opponent was hobbled by Ethic committee enquiries and inquests, Blatter maintained his throne claiming that he would “clean up football”. And pigs might indeed fly.
5) Football does not have a racism problem
In a proper head-in-sand moment, Blatter declared yesterday that there was no problem of on field racism in FIFA’s game and that any problems that do arise should be dealt with a handshake. Guess there’s no point letting the facts get in the way of a good story. The spectre of racism has been creeping back into public attention over the last few months, with high-profile incidents involving John Terry, Luis Suarez and Cesc Fabregas all attracting international media attention. And the truth is that sadly the problem has never really left the sport. Whilst such assertions may not suit Blatter’s slick packaging of world football, if FIFA and national governing bodies ever want to get serious on the issue it is one they must accept.