Sepp Blatter served 17 years (1998-2015) as president of FIFA, which is constantly fighting the International Olympic Committee for the title of the most corrupt sports governing body in the world.
He once managed to win re-election even after the US Department of Justice indicted 14 executives and employees on racketeering charges stemming from an alleged widespread culture of bribery and kickbacks often associated with voting for the right to host the World Cup. Many Swiss authorities were dragged out of luxurious hotel beds in posh hotels in Zurich during the FIFA convention.
When Blatter eventually resigned in disgrace, he had the audacity to say, “FIFA needs a deep restructuring.”
No kidding? Of course it was, and of course it still is, but perhaps Blatter could have worked on it in his nearly two decades of rule.
It’s Sepp Blatter, the most fake of the fakes.
This is the guy who oversaw so many ambiguous deals that the World Cup had to take place in November and December – upsetting professional calendars and challenging viewing habits – because, under highly suspicious circumstances and with tragic consequences, Qatar somehow won the bid. for 2022. .
Blatter, now 86, also regrets it.
“It was a bad choice and at the time I was in charge of it as president,” he said.
You might say it’s better late than never to make an obvious statement, but that’s how people like Blatter try to (sort of) clear their conscience. It was a bad choice then, now and always. It was also ridiculous when the United States, among other countries, was ready to take on these responsibilities.
Instead, he went to a small oil country with a pathetic human rights record, a history of surveillance repression, a deadly migrant worker problem, and an atmosphere that turned it all into something unfortunate.
Injuries have kicked out many top players. The national teams have little time to get in shape. Fans are afraid that their every move will be tracked. At least in the US, this event will compete for attention with the NFL and college football.
And perhaps only a person with the moral compass of a FIFA chief can sit in one of the shiny new stadiums and not wonder how many Nepalese workers died building it. Truth? Nobody will ever know.
Blatter doesn’t seem to care much. Now he is opposed to Qatar because it is “too small”.
In 2010, Qatar’s surprise 14-8 victory over the US in the final was suspicious at the time, and things only got worse.
He had no solid arguments other than that the World Cup had never been held in the Middle East. However, there were reasons for this, and not only due to the fact that summer temperatures can rise to 130 degrees.
“Thanks to the four voices [former UEFA chief Michael] Platini and his team, the World Cup went to Qatar, not the United States,” Blatter told the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger on Tuesday. “This is true.”
Blatter went on to say that then French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Platini, a legendary player from the country, and told him, “Look what you and your UEFA colleagues can do for Qatar when the World Cup is awarded.”
Similarly, Qatar was inside, but the US was not.
“But of course it was also about money,” Blatter said. “Six months later, Qatar bought fighter jets from the French for $14.6 billion.”
This is some classic FIFA, and by no means is it the only side deal that has made an impact. Both Blatter and Platini were investigated and punished, and at one point were even completely excluded from football.
Almost nothing was legal in FIFA under Blatter, and anyone who paid attention to it knew it. This largely useless international governing body holds the most popular sport on Earth in its hands and can make short work of just about anyone, anywhere.
Of course, the World Cup is the jewel of the crown. And, as with the Olympics, desperate nations often led by despot leaders sought to host the games to make themselves known on the international stage – or to allow public funds to go to favored contractors, who then sent some back to politicians – FIFA officials. . played along.
The World Cup took place in Brazil, where it left behind a trail of white elephant stadiums. It was in Russia where Vladimir Putin used it to polish his reputation and power.
“Putin is no longer the man I met then,” Blatter said, noting that he condemns the current invasion of Ukraine.
In fact, this is exactly the same person. Back then, Blatter didn’t care.
Now it is Qatar with its social views from the 1400s.
It’s a beautiful game, people like to talk about football, but it’s always been an ugly business, and no one knows it better than Sepp Blatter, the former boss who watched it all and is now apparently trying to find a religion.
Error? Yes, no joke. And one that can be avoided, no matter how many billions were scattered around.