Halftime Sports

Is Sepp Blatter Going Out Guns Blazing, or Is He Just This Dumb?

November 5, 2015

The Independent

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on Sepp Blatter and corruption in FIFA. I couldn’t resist elaborating on the topic after Blatter’s recent comments, which I can’t really believe he even said, because they’re that crazy.

Blatter granted an interview to a Russian news agency, an outlet he probably considers amicable to his cause, as Blatter is known to have a cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Russians. I’m only going to talk about the most ridiculous and unbelievable comment that Blatter made, but the rest of the interview is pretty interesting as well. You can find the full transcript here.

Interviewer: “Do you think it was a mistake to simultaneously hold the elections of both 2018 and 2022 World Cups in 2010?”

Blatter: “In 2010 we had a discussion of the World Cup and then we went to a double decision. For the World Cups it was agreed that we go to Russia because it’s never been in Russia, eastern Europe, and for 2022 we go back to America. And so we will have the World Cup in the two biggest political powers. And everything was good until the moment when Sarkozy [former French President Nicolas Sarkozy] came in a meeting with the crown prince of Qatar, who is now the ruler of Qatar (Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani). And at a lunch afterwards with Mr. Platini [head of the European soccer federation, Michel Platini] he said it would be good to go to Qatar. And this has changed all pattern. There was an election by secret ballot. Four votes from Europe went away from the USA and so the result was fourteen to eight. If you put the four votes, it would have been twelve to ten. If the USA was given the World Cup, we would only speak about the wonderful World Cup 2018 in Russia and we would not speak about any problems at FIFA.”

…… what?

Okay, so let me lay out for you what Blatter said in this quote:

  • I’m not sure if anything that he did say actually pertains to the original question of it being a “mistake” to select the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts simultaneously.
  • FIFA committee members had discussed and decided on the locations of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups before a vote took place.
  • A shady meeting did indeed occur between Michel Platini (head of Europe’s soccer governing body), the Prince of Qatar, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
  • Not only did this suspicious meeting take place, (one which has been accused of being very nefarious) but afterwards, Platini and four of Europe’s voters magically and mysteriously switched their voting loyalties from the U.S. to Qatar.
  • NOT ONLY THAT, but Blatter knew of all of the voters’ intended preferences beforehand, even though he claimed it was a “secret ballot.”

Are you kidding me, Sepp?

I don’t think that Blatter is dumb enough to say stuff like this and assume that it would help his cause of proving that he and FIFA aren’t corrupt. The guy literally said explicitly that FIFA is corrupt, provided an example of how, and has now caused an international uproar.

Maybe that was exactly his intention.

Let me explain:

Blatter and Michel Platini have always had a love/hate relationship. Recently, they came under scrutiny for a potentially shady payment of money from Blatter in 2010 for work Platini did for FIFA in 1998-2002. Blatter claims the money was paid because he and Platini had a “gentleman’s agreement” (if that description doesn’t scream corruption, I don’t know what does), which Blatter reciprocated by providing the payment. After FIFA uncovered this potential bribery/corrupt payment, they suspended both Blatter and Platini from FIFA for 90 days, pending an investigation.

Sepp Blatter is, finally, on his way out of FIFA after 17 years in presidential office. Corruption allegations are consuming the organization these days, and a special FIFA congress is scheduled for February to elect the group’s next president. Platini was considered the favorite to win the nomination until the “gentleman’s agreement” payment was uncovered. Could Blatter be throwing more hints of Platini’s corrupt past to the public, trying to keep him away from the presidency because of their previous disagreements?

Blatter and Platini have quarrels that seem childish in my opinion, but they dislike each other nonetheless. Apparently, Blatter wasn’t “respected” enough by the European soccer federation or Platini throughout the 2000s, so he began to boycott their events. The European federation also overwhelmingly voted against Blatter in the most recent FIFA election. Enough to impose backlash against Platini? I wouldn’t put it past Sepp.

It’s possible, but any allegations incriminating Platini would almost certainly end up coming back full circle and implicating Blatter as well. Ah, the beauty of the corrupt FIFA bureaucracy. It can’t be ruled out that Sepp’s intention was to allege corruption by Platini, though, especially since the 79-year-old Blatter could probably stretch any potential trials/legal repercussions out for at least a few years to the point where he could sneak by without serving any type of jail sentence due to his old age.

Blatter surely isn’t stupid, and only a stupid person would make these comments with the intention of improving a situation such as this one, which leads me to believe that he may be going out guns blazing, implicating everyone and anyone of corruption, and burning all bridges along the way. What does he have to lose? The guy is on his way out anyways, and if he really doesn’t like Platini, why not insinuate some kind of bribery or fowl play on the part of Michel and the Qataris? Is this Sepp’s last hoorah? I wonder if FIFA will investigate the allegations brought up by Sepp in this interview. I can’t wait for this situation to unfold, and someone should petition that it is picked up by E! as a reality sequel to Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

Nick Gavio
Nick is the Voice's former editorial board chair. Follow him on Twitter at @nickgavio, where he primarily retweets cute puppy videos.


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