Tag Archives: Sepp Blatter

Why FIFA’s presidential election won’t solve their problems

Today should be a day of celebration for football fans. It will mark the end of Sepp Batter’s pathetic disastrous 18 years as FIFA President when his successor is elected. But it is highly likely it won’t be. While some people will doubtless say anyone would be an improvement on ghastly Blatter the five candidates to succeed him are not a distinguished lot (to put it mildly).

Three of them in my opinion would be disasters. One is Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa from Bahrain. He is the former head of Bahrain’s FA and a member of the country’s Royal Family. He has also repeatedly had to deny human rights abuses including torture of his own national team’s players. Even the suspicion of human rights abuses should disqualify a person from being a candidate but incredibly he is the favourite.

Gianni Infantimo from Switzerland is UEFA’S General Secretary. This nonentity is only standing because his boss Michel Plattini is banned from standing. Yet incredibly the English FA is supporting him for some reason that must remain a mystery. As a Swiss football administrator he would represent more of the same (Blatter is Swiss). Incredibly the other European standing Frenchman Jerone Champagne is even worse. This twit said in 2014 that “Football needs to free itself from the shackles of European law”. Garbage. Football should have to obey every law. Everybody else does. That quote on its own should have got him booted out of football for ever. Yet he is a FIFA Presidential candidate. Unbelievable!

That leaves the only two even vaguely credible candidates. Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan was the man who had the courage to challenge Blatter last year gaining 73 votes and denying Blatter a first ballot majority. Yet like Michael Heseltine who challenged Margaret Thatcher for the Conservative Party leadership in 1990 he is unlikely to get the ultimate prize. I suspect he got his votes last year simply because he was not Blatter. But a lot of the FIFA presidential electors are – unbelievably – still loyal to Blatter and would vote for him if they could (like Conservative MPs in 1990 who were loyal to Thatcher and hated Heseltine for challenging her). I doubt those who did not vote for Ali last year will vote for him today.

The one I would pick on the ” least worse” basis is South African Tokyo Sexwalle. At least he has some experience of real life – he was an anti apartheid campaigner in South Africa and spent thirteen years on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela – plus the fact that it would be a good idea for a black African to be FIFA President considering white men have made such a balls up of the job. Yet incredibly he is struggling to get votes from his own continent with rumours that the African FAs will vote en masse for Sheikh Salman. One feels knowing the history of FIFA there might be something dodgy going on…

But why is the field so mediocre? Simply because of a rule which is blatantly discriminatory. In order to be a candidate for FIFA President you must have two years involvement in football. But it is football people that got FIFA into this mess in the first place. And it is highly unlikely a football man (since most of the football establishment are men) would be able (or willing) to clean up FIFA. Remember it is the American FBI and the Swiss police that exposed the mess in FIFA in the first place.

The history of sport shows sport does not reform itself but when it is reformed it is done by outsiders. Baseball was cleaned up after the “Black Sox” scandal by judge – and the sport’s first commissioner – Kennesaw Mountain Landis. Cricket was revolutionised in the 1970s by an outsider – Kerry Packer. The revolution in UK football coverage brought by the Premier League was also done by outsiders – Rupert Murdoch of Sky and then Tottenham Hotspur chairman (more famous for being the hirer and firer in the UK version of “the Apprentice”) Alan Sugar. And coming up to date the current story about match fixing in tennis was broken by the BBC and Buzzfeed – more outsiders.

It does not matter who wins tomorrow. Sporting establishments do not change voluntarily. To quote former UK Prime Minister James Callaghan ” Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas “. Sure some cosmetic reforms to appease the hoi polloi might be promised but it will be as little as FIFA think they can get away with. FIFA like the EU is unreformable. The only solution is for the European and American FAs – whose companies bankroll FIFA – to break away set up a new FIFA and start again. But as they won’t have the courage to do it nothing will change in FIFA. Depressing, isn’t it?

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I Hate FIFA More Than You Do, a poem

I was going to write about the re election of that sexist bastard Sepp Blatter as FIFA president. He’ll probably change the rules so that he will be FIFA president after he is dead! But someone has done it far better than I could.So I’ve reblogged this poem by the excellent Jennifer Doyle instead. Sums up how I feel.

PS – I don’t hate Manchester United (apart from their dispicable treatment of their women’s team)

The Sport Spectacle

I hate Sepp Blatter

as much as I hated Jesse Helms, may that homophobic, racist monster rot in hell.

I hate FIFA

as much as I hate the contemporary art market, which is run by bankers and assholes.

I hate Sepp Blatter

more than I am disgusted by rotten meat.

I hate FIFA

in exactly the same way that I hate Capitalism.

I hate Sepp Blatter

more than I hate Manchester United.

I hate FIFA

with a white-hot passion that seems to know no scale.

I hate Sepp Blatter

only slightly less than I hate the assault on all educational structures that do not service the rich.

I hate FIFA

more than I hate the structural sexism of my workplace, which surprises me.

I hate Sepp Blatter

more than you do, unless you aren’t on FIFA’s payroll, in which case

You hate FIFA as much, maybe even more than I do.

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Sport is still rife with sexism

A couple of months ago I was watching TV when there was a knock on the door. I answered it and a friend came in. He noticed that I was watching a women’s tennis match involving Canadian Eugenie Bouchard and he said the following:

“You can’t like watching this crap! The only reason you’re watching it is to look at her legs!”

I don’t know how I didn’t lose my temper. At first I was angry that he thought I was so shallow as to be only watching Bouchard to look at her legs. He knew me. He must have known I wasn’t like that. But then when I had calmed down I realised it wasn’t me he was insulting but Ms Bouchard. And here’s why:

Although she hasn’t played as well this year Bouchard is a player who aged 21 has reached a Wimbledon Final and two other Grand Slam Semi Finals. She is ranked six in the world. In other words she plays tennis better than 99 per cent of the human beings on this planet. And yet this guy thought the only reason she was worth watching was because of her legs!

The reason I suddenly thought of this incident was it was an example of the sexism that still pervades sport. And recently there were two spectacular examples of sexism in sport.

One came in Italian football. The President of the country’s amateur football association Felice Belloli is alleged to have said when asked about funding for women’s football  “That’s enough, we can’t always talk about giving money to this bunch of lesbians”. He denied saying that but a woman offical said she was at that meeting and that he did make the remark. To no ones surprise he is still in post.

The other example is closer to home. On the 14th of May the women’s editor of the Daily Telegraph Emma Barnett wrote an article about women’s sport. The next week she received the most ridiculous letter I have ever seen It was written on pink paper by a person who did not reveal their name. The letter said:

No one wants to watch women’s sport love, its a joke, pony tails swaying, tits bouncing, come on get serious. Put ’em back in the kitchen where they belong and leave sport to the warriors of the species not the dykes.

As UK journalist Richard Littlejohn would say “You couldn’t make it up!’

While it is true that sport is by no means the only place you see sexism in the unique thing about sport is that the sexism generally does not come from male participants. They are exceptions to this – French tennis player Jo-Wilfred Tsonga made sexist remarks about female tennis players and footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic made sexist remarks about female footballers after the Swedish press asked him if  the best female player in Sweden Lotta Schelin was as good as him – cases of sexism by elite sportsmen are rare. Generally they respect their female colleagues. Most of the sexism in sport comes from journalists, officials like Richard Scudamore and Sepp Blatter or fans like my friend or whoever wrote that letter to Emma Barnett. And to my mind that makes the sexism worse.

While it is wrong for Tsonga and Ibrahimovic to make the remarks they did at least they are elite sportsmen. The likes of Blatter, Scudamore and what World Soccer magazine (April 2005 issue) called “intransigent, cynical, beer-swilling blokes plonked in front of Sky at four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon” would not last five minutes against elite female footballers. So why on earth do they make sexist remarks about people who play football better than they ever could? Same with my friend who made that remark about Bouchard. Why do people think they can get away with deogratory remarks about people who do the job better than they do?

Next month sees the Women’s Football World Cup in Canada. For some reason women’s football attracts more press and public odium than any other female sport (even women who play other traditional male sports like cricket boxing and rugby don’t get attacked as much). One thing that can be predicted with depressing certainty. There will be a lot of sexism at this tournament. And the really annoying part of that will be that the vast majority of that sexism will come from armchair critics who will be incapable of producing football anywhere near the quality the likes of Alex Morgan, Marta, Lotta Schelin, Eugenie Le Sommer, Vero Boquete, Lara Dickenmann,Toni Duggan, Nadine Angerer and the brilliant Dezenifer Marozan – to name but a few – will produce. And that proves that not only is sport rife with sexism, the sexism in sport is more nasty than in any other field.

For at least in other fields (politics to give one example) a lot of sexism is done by other politicians. Which doesn’t make it right but at least means the people who are doing it are good at the job. Where as in sport I would love to see the sexist journalists, officials and fans who spout this rubbish take on elite sportswomen on the field. They wouldn’t last five minutes. It would be very funny. And it might shut them up!

FIFA is so arrogant it even ignores its own rules

We all know FIFA is racist, sexist, homophobic, arrogant and has contempt for the law. It is a bit of a shock to discover they don’t even have respect for their own rules but a new story confirms this.
The excellent British magazine World Soccer (although judging by its content it should be called World Men’sSoccer but that is a different story)has an interesting article in its September issue (pages 36-38) that shows UEFA and FIFA are ignoring their own rules. it will surprise no one to learn it is to do with the 2018 World Cup hosts Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Earlier this year Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of the Crimea. The United Nations (UN) General Assembly passed a resolution upholding the territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea, and that Russia’s annexation “has no validity”. This did not have anything to do with football until July when three Crimean teams were moved from the Ukrainian League and entered into the Russian League instead. The three teams were from Simferopol, Sevastopol and Yalta. The point being that UEFA rules do not allow teams from one country to play in another country’s League at all, while FIFA rules allow it if both the FAs agree* – which considering Ukraine (and the UN) consider Crimea as still part of Ukraine is not going to happen. The punishment for breaking this rule should be suspension of the federation concerned. In other words Russia should be thrown out of the Euro 2016 qualifiers and Russian clubs should be banned from the Champions League and the Europa League. Russia should even be threatened with losing the right to host the 2018 World Cup.
So what tough punishment have Russia been hit with for stealing three of another country’s football teams? None. Zilch. Sweet FA. UEFA say they will wait until they get advice from the UN. But the UN resolution on Crimea (see above) shows their point of view. FIFA won’t do anything until UEFA does. A cynic might say the football authorities want to cosy up to Putin rather than move the 2018 World Cup to a democracy. FIFA general secretary Jerone Valcke gave himself away by saying “less democracy is sometimes better for organising a World Cup”. As for UEFA the fact that the Champions League is sponsored by a Russian gas giant – Gazprom – has nothing to do with them not wanting Russian clubs banned from the Champions League. And if you believe that you believe in the tooth fairy.
All this proves is that until governments force football to obey the law FIFA – and football – will do what it wants. Its one thing getting an exemption from a law you don’t like – like the UK’s 1975 Sex Discrimination Act – it is quite another to ignore your own rules to suit one country while expecting everyone else to obey them. In my opinion the English FA – and every FA in the world – should just ignore any FIFA rule they don’t like. After all if FIFA let Russia off they need to let every one else off. But that is what dictators do – and Sepp Blatter is one – they change the rules to suit themselves. The governments of the world must order their FAs to leave FIFA – thus consigning Blatter’s arrogant two-faced dictatorship – that doesn’t even enforce its own laws – into oblivion.
*Which is how Cardiff City and Swansea City – both Welsh clubs – can play in the English League to quote one example.

Sepp Blatter in good idea shocker!

An excellent World Cup so far full of shocks. Who’d have thought we would have had to wait for the thirteenth match for the first 0-0 draw, or that Spain and Portugal would be bottom of their groups and Costa Rica top of theirs? But the most important incident was France’s second goal against Honduras which saw the first use of goal line technology thus confirming that football has finally caught up with the 21st century.
But the biggest surprise happened at the FIFA congress where Sepp Blatter had a good idea. Yes the guy who as British football writer Brian Glanville put it “has 50 ideas before breakfast and 51 are bad” actually had a good one. While it wasn’t “I resign” or “I’m moving the 2022 World Cup to a more suitable venue”(anywhere else in the world would be more suitable) one must be thankful for small mercies. His idea was that managers should be allowed to challenge referee’s decisions twice a game. While he was vague about it – deliberately so? – and it still has to get past the International Football Association Board – an organisation that makes FIFA look progressive – a look at other sports shows the potential impact of Blatter’s plan.
Three sports I’m interested in – baseball cricket and tennis – have all adopted something similar. And despite teething problems the benefits are clear. The tennis system is the easiest to understand as it applies to wither the ball is in or out in close plays. Hawkeye is accurate the system is quick and the McEnroe style tantrums tennis used to be renowned for are history.
The cricket system is more interesting since although it is a team game it is up to the individual player wither or not to challenge the umpire’s call. If a challenge is wrong the team loses a review and it was interesting during last summer’s Ashes to see certain players reviewing all the time mostly being proved wrong and costing their team a review (I’m talking about you Shane Watson and Stuart Broad!). Yet only yesterday – at the end of a thrilling Test between England and Sri Lanka – we saw the system working. Sri Lanka’s last man Nuwan Pradeep was given out. It was obviously an incorrect call he challenged it and TV confirmed the umpire’s mistake. It cost England a win but justice was seen to be done and had the system not been there it would have caused A LOT of controversy.
Baseball is the newest convert to this system having adopted it just this year. Here it is the manager that can challenge a call – one a game (two if his first challenge is proved right). Although it is still early days it has calmed down a game in which according to Mike Marquesse “dissent is commonplace;abusing the umpire is a cherished national tradition” (Mike Marquesse “Anyone but England” page 199). Manager ejections are way down this year as they can now challenge bad calls instead of going on to the field to shout at the umpire and get ejected as a result. That has to be a good thing.
So the evidence from other sports is that a video challenge system can cut down on bad decisions (I’m sure Croatia and Mexico to name but two teams at this World Cup would welcome this) and it would also cut down on dissent and diving as cheats would know that TV would catch them out and they would not gain an advantage (which everybody would agree with). If football has any sense at all – and the struggle to get goal line technology introduced makes one unsure of this – it is not a case of if it is introduced but when
So the unthinkable has happened. Sepp Blatter has had a good idea. Miracles can happen. Now if the BBC can get Phil Neville to say something interesting that would be another miracle…

It is time for arrogant FIFA to face up to the real world

As you know the World Cup starts in Brazil on Thursday. But unless you’ve ben holidaying on the moon these past two weeks you’ll know that FIFA is facing serious corruption allegations about the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. But this is just part of a major problem FIFA – and football – faces. It is out of touch with the real world. it lives in a fantasy world where racism sexism and homophobia don’t exist and for that matter neither do laws that the rest of the world have to obey. A few quotes will back me up.
“Blatter’s arrogance typifies a game that has grown too big for its boots”( Paul Gardner, World Soccer, August 2013, page 15)
“I had come out as hating the World Cup because it’s a completely corrupt boondoggle” (Jennifer Doyle, the Sport Spectacle “On the Sexism of Football Scholars and Sports Critics, May 2014)
“FIFA is an Orwellian global super state” (Paul Hayward, Daily Telegraph, June 10 2014)
“They should refrain from sexual activities” (Sepp Blatter, December 2010, talking about gay people after anti gay Qatar won the 2022 World Cup)
“They could for example wear tighter shorts” (Blatter, January 2004, talking about female footballers)
“”Football needs to free itself from the shackles of European law” (Jerome Champagne, would be FIFA president)
I could go on but you’ve got the point. This is an organisation – and a sport – that lives in its own fantasy world. No wonder Richard Scudamore said the things he did in that infamous e-mail – and got away with it. And Blatter is at it again. After two weeks of corruption allegations about the 2022 World Cup what is his response? Here it is:
“Sadly there is a great deal of discrimination and racism and that hurts me”. That’s a bit rich coming from a guy who has made sexist and homophobic remarks.
So what needs to be done? Quite simply FIFA and football need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the real world. FIFA’s sponsors and the big countries in the world need to say “move them or lose us”. They don’t have to wait for corruption allegations to move the 2018 World Cup from Putin’s Russia or 2022 from Qatar. Both countries have anti gay policies. If FIFA believes in equality (and believe it or not they claim to do) that is all the excuse they need.Sport was a prime factor in ending apartheid in South Africa since the rest of the world boycotted the country. By boycotting homophobic countries like Russia ad Qatar football can set an example. If the sponsors and the big FAs asked FIFA to do this FIFA would have no choice but to comply. If they lost their sponsors and most important members FIFA would lose money. And the one thing FIFA fears is losing money. Hit their weak spot and they will give in.
But more than that is needed. Every law in a country has to apply to football too. One example. In the UK sex discrimination law does not apply in football. That has been the case since 1975 on the pretext that the average woman is at a strength disadvantage to the average man. Now this might have made sense in the political and sporting context of 1975. The UK government at the time had a majority of just 3 seats so probably the Sex Discrimination Bill would have been amended to include this clause anyway. And women’s football had only been unbanned in the UK 1971. But this is 2014 not 1975. The clause is out of date. And even if it isn’t it sets a terrible example. If an industry can get out of one law it doesn’t like it tries to get out of other laws. for example FIFA hates the EU’s freedom of movement laws that mean european workers – including footballers – can play anywhere in europe that they want. this law has applied to football since 1995. Incredibly UEFA and FIFA still don’t accept it and want to be exempt. How arrogant.They must be told. Football is part of society. It must live by the rules of society.
FIFA itself needs reform. The FIFA president must be restricted to two four year terms. Blatter has been there since 1998 and wants to be there till 2019. Too long. The longer someone stays in office the more power they gain. And power corrupts. Also they should be forced to reitre at 70. Blatter is 76 and if he lasts to 2019 he will be 81. How can someone that age be in touch with the modern world?
And finally the World Cup bidding process. . Why do we need a World Cup bidding process at all? We all know in the real world few countries can host the World Cup. I’d say England, France Italy Spain Germany Brazil Argentina the US Mexico Japan South Korea Australia China and South Africa are the only ones. Why not rotate the World Cup between them? Each country would know when it is its turn to host it and would not have to go through an expensive bidding process It could work like this. the 2006 World Cup was in Germany. it then went to south Africa and this year’s is in Brazil. In 2018 it would go to England (the european country among the five above that hasn’t hosted it) then in 2022 it could go to Australia (which has never hosted it) then in 2026 it could go to Argentina (which hasn’t hosted it since 1978) then in 2030 it could go to Spain (last hosts in 1982) and so on.
I can understand the likes of Jennifer Doyle when they say they hate the World Cup. But the World Cup is not the problem. FIFA is. To quote Hugh Gaitskell the former leader of the UK Labour party “we must fight, fight and fight again” to save the sport we love. We must aim for a world where football is in touch with society. We must aim for a world where the only qualification to play for a club is talent – not nationality race or gender. We must aim for a world where FIFA is not corrupt. It might never happen. but we have to aim for it.
PS – despite all FIFA’s faults I’ll still be watching the World Cup. For what it is worth my tip to win is Brazil.