Archive for November, 2011

Sepp Blatter can save the world

November 17, 2011

It must be nice to be Sepp Blatter.

Why? Well, you get to run FIFA, soccer’s world-wide governing body, for one.

And apparently, you can say whatever stupid, moronic thing that comes to mind with little consequence.

The latest gaffe is on racism.

To set the stage, I’ll tell you that racist chants at black players is far more common in Europe than anyone likes, and lately, there have been instances of white (John Terry)  and South American (Luis Suarez) players being accused of using racist insults to black players on the pitch.

But if you ask Sepp Blatter, there’s no problem.

“‘I would deny it. There is no racism, there is maybe one of the players towards another, he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one, but also the one who is affected by that.

“He should say that this is a game. We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.

“I think the whole world is aware of the efforts we are making against racism and discrimination. And, on the field of play sometimes you say something that is not very correct, but then at the end of the game, the game is over and you have the next game where you can behave better.”

So, in short, racism does not exist in soccer because Sepp Blatter says it doesn’t.

Naturally, he gets blasted for these comments.

His response?

This photo:

This picture was posted at the top of an article on FIFA.com with some clarification on his earlier comments.

I’m guessing a PR guy pulled him aside and said, “Mr. Blatter, you sound like a fool. Let me write you something.”

Anyway, he backed off it and posted the picture which, to me, says, “see, I like black people.”

Blatter is world famous for his quotes. The Guardian put together a list recently. Among them:

2004, on how to boost interest in the women’s game: “Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men – such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?”

2008, on slavery: Asked about Cristiano Ronaldo’s desire to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid. “I think in football there’s too much modern slavery in transferring players or buying players here and there, and putting them somewhere.” Uefa’s communications director, William Gaillard, clarified: “It would be useful to remind people that slaves in all of the slavery systems never earned a wage.”

2010, on the controversy surrounding Terry bedding a teammate’s girlfriend: Asked about whether John Terry should be stripped of the England captaincy over allegations of an affair with a former team-mate’s former girlfriend. “Listen, this is a special approach in the Anglo-Saxon countries. If this had happened in, let’s say, Latin countries then I think he would have been applauded.”

2010, on gay soccer fans and the 2022 World Cup, set for Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal: Blatter brushed the question off, and advised gay fans to “refrain from any sexual activities” during the tournament.

He later clarified: “It was not my intention and never will be my intention to go into any discrimination. This is exactly what we are against. If somebody feels that they have been hurt, then I regret it and present apologies.”

Two years earlier Blatter had urged gay footballers to come out and not be put off by football’s “macho” atmosphere. “There are gay footballers, but they don’t declare it because it will not be accepted in these macho organisations. But look at women’s football – homosexuality is more popular there!”

2010, on corruption (and my personal favorite): “There are no rotten eggs. There is no systematic corruption in Fifa. That is nonsense. We are financially clean and clear.”

My friend and colleague Greg Phillips have taken to channeling Blatter when faced with newsroom problems. “I don’t have five stories to write today” or “our website is working just fine.”

In fact, Greg came up with a list of problem areas we could get Blatter to solve with just a few sage comments:

1. Penn State
2. Herman Cain
3. The global economy
4. Climate change skeptics
5. Amphibians
6. Michael Jackson’s physician
7. The Lumbee Tribal Council
8. The Catholic Church
9. Rick Perry
10 . Barack Obama
Greg also thinks the only way to get rid of Blatter is to put him on a rocket to Mars. But even then, he’d set up an intergalactic footballing organization and hold pressers via satellite.
It’s good to be king, I guess.
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