In every sport you will find villains, but generally these villains will be players for your team’s rival or people in the game that you may not like, but they do provide entertainment. These types of villains are essential in any kind of narrative, and are often characters which you love to hate. Sepp Blatter does not fall into this category, as his reign in charge of FIFA has been one that has been rife with controversy and may have done lasting damage to the game that we know and love. Blatter has been the president of FIFA since 1998, and now more than ever there are calls for his time at the helm to come to an end. These calls are not just from angry fans from around the world, they are also from important figureheads within the game itself.
The 78-year-old was re-elected in 2002, 2007 and 2011, and will stand again for re-election as president of FIFA, as he claims that his mission is not yet finished. This is to the fury of fans and figureheads around the world, who view Blatter and all the reported controversy to be destroying the integrity of international football. Despite all this, the Swiss former technical director and general secretary of FIFA is unwilling to stand aside. There are few that now take the international governing body seriously, which means that it is now surely the time for changes to be made so that football can move forwards.
International football unites the entire world and helps to forget, even if just for a moment, all the tension and conflict there is in the world. The World Cup is a great example of this, where people around the globe tuned in to enjoy watching their country compete, but also cheer on other nations in what is an important and positive global event comparable to the Olympics. The Qatar 2022 World Cup proves to jeopardize this with the allegations of a corrupt bidding process and back-room dealings, as well as FIFA’s refusal to publish an investigation into the selection process for this and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
His career as FIFA President started under controversial circumstances, and there have been many more scandals during his 16-year reign. Here are 10 reasons why Sepp Blatter must be impeached.
10. Initial approach to goal-line technology
Fortunately goal-line technology is now used, but Blatter had to perform a huge u-turn on his approach to the technology after a game between England and Germany in the 2010 World Cup. Frank Lampard had a goal disallowed which should have counted, causing huge criticism and pressure from players and referees for the technology to be used. Blatter was previously against goal-line technology to retain the “human aspect” of the game, but there have been countless incorrect decisions made in regards to whether or not the ball crossed the line over the years which have ruined games, and even countries hopes of progressing in major tournaments. The technology works and does not slow the game, keeps matches fair and protects referees, so why wouldn’t you use it?
9. Comments on racism in football
In 2011, the Swiss administrator claimed that on field racism was not a problem and that those who are victims should remember “it’s just a game”, and that they should shake hands with the opponent and move on. This worrying approach to what is unfortunately a very prevalent problem in the game is made worse by the fact that he is the president of the international governing body of football. This sparked fury from players, fans and those in and out the game, who state that his comments are condescending and ridiculous, and that they prove how out of touch he is. These comments have been a contributing factor for many wanting Blatter to step down.
8. Denying corruption despite 2 executive committee members being exposed
In 2010, executive committee members Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii were exposed selling their World Cup votes, subsequently receiving three year and one year bans plus fines. There were also four other FIFA officials that received bans, all of which are former executive committee members. Both Adamu and Temarij lost their votes, but it is a clear indication that back room deals do happen. Despite this, Blatter claimed that FIFA is not corrupt and that there are “no bad eggs”.
7. Allegations of financial mismanagement
In 2002, a dossier was released by Michel Zen Ruffinen, who was at the time FIFA General Secretary, which accused FIFA and Blatter of mismanagement. Some of these malpractices would constitute a crime under Swiss law, with allegations including misleading accountancy practices, paying cash for votes and making unauthorized payments. There was an internal investigation into the mismanagement, but this was halted by Blatter because it broke confidentiality agreements. Zen-Ruffinen stepped down just before the 2002 World Cup.
6. He has lost the respect of players and key figureheads
In his time as FIFA President, Blatter has lost the respect of key figures in the game due to some of his comments, as well as the allegations of corruption and back room deals. Eric Cantona compared Blatter and Platini to “the plague and cholera”, whilst Gary Lineker has spoken out numerous times about Blatter and Qatar, stating that FIFA is run “like a dictatorship”. The former chairman of the Football Association recently stated that FIFA was run like a “mafia family”, and compared Blatter to Don Corleone. These are just a few key football figures that have spoken out against Blatter and the reports of corruption. When so many important people in the game openly speak out against the man at the top, it is a sign that something is clearly wrong and that it is time for change.
5. Allegations of Havelange cover up
Blatter has admitted to knowing that his predecessor, Joao Havelange, accepted bribery payments for awarding the television contacts for the 2002 and 2006 World Cup’s to ISL. It is thought that Havelange and his son in law, Ricardo Teixeira (an executive committee member), accepted payments of around £27 million from the marketing company. No punishment was made by FIFA in what has been described as a “cover up”, and Blatter’s knowledge and failure to act on this knowledge outraged many and damaged the reputation of FIFA.
4. Sexist comments
Blatter has made a few sexist remarks in his time as FIFA president, causing outrage both inside and outside the world of football. Blatter has stated that female footballers could wear “tighter shorts” to promote the game, and a few other sexist remarks which have been patronizing, insensitive and damaging to the reputation of FIFA. In April of 2013, FIFA’s independent governance committee member Alexandra Wrage resigned due to “blatant sexism”. Somebody in such a powerful position holding these views and making them public will stop the game from progressing and give the entire football world a misogynistic label.
3. Vote buying allegations in his first election
It is believed by many that during the 1998 FIFA Presidency election, vote buying helped Blatter to win over his opponent, Lennart Johansson. Blatter has since admitted that this may have been the case, but he had nothing to do with it. David Yallop’s book titled ‘How They Stole the Game’ details these allegations, with votes being procured in Paris by giving African delegates envelopes with $50,000 inside. If vote buying did happen in the 1998 election, even if Blatter was not aware of this, then it means that his reign as FIFA President began under controversial circumstances, and it is the first of many scandals in his reign.
2. FIFA’s refusal to publish the full report on the World Cup bidding process
The United States attorney, Michael Garcia, spearheaded an investigation into allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the next two World Cups. FIFA published a 42-page summary of the investigation, but would not publish the full report due to legal reasons. Garcia has spoken out and said that this summarized publication contains “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations”. The time has come for answers, and not publishing the full report has further tarnished both FIFA and Blatter’s reputation.
1. The 2018 World Cup in Russia and 2022 World Cup in Qatar scandal
There is an enormous air of suspicion surrounding the selection process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, with allegations of FIFA officials being bribed for their vote. It is mainly the selection of Qatar that has faced the most suspicion, as many saw the nation as an outsider. It is a shock victory due to the unbearable heat that the tournament would be played in, and the fact that Qatar had no suitable stadiums or football background. There are 10 stadiums being built for the competition, and concerns over the treatment of migrant workers have added to the controversy. Only five of the 11 men who voted on the World Cups who are no longer on the committee provided answers for Garcia’s reports, and there are two that could not be located at all. Whether true or not, these allegations are ruining the integrity of international football and the sport cannot move forward whilst such a controversial figure remains in charge.
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