Sepp Blatter believes FIFA must be doing something right. In an interview with the ESM group, which includes World Soccer, he noted that the recent FIFA Gala received positive coverage “even by the newspapers in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.”
Blatter, for all the insecurity of his 13-year reign as president, maintains a remarkable power of “bouncebackability” and has displayed it yet again in turning on its head a question about FIFA’s problems.
At FIFA Congress last year “I received more than 91 percent of the votes, which shows that the football family stands united; and when the congress ended, 98 percent agreed with the reforms I proposed – that’s a sign of deep confidence.
“The FIFA members trust in me, they are sure that together with the executive committee I will manage to lead our ship back into calm sea and keep right on course. In these turbulent times many people forget about the positive things the FIFA has achieved.”
These included the worldwide popularity of football, its progress even in some of the world’s most troubled regions and the regular displays of fairplay such as the Italian player Simone Farina who picked up a FIFA award for whistleblowing in the latest Italian match fixing scandal.
Even blame for the vote-rigging scandal in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding is apportioned first of all to “cunning English journalists [who] set traps into which some people fell.” Blatter appeared to be suggesting that it was the naughty media which had enforced recourse to the Ethics Committee and the proposal that Congress decides World Cup hosts.
Intriguing, here, was the issue of how Blatter is perceived in Germany to have, in effect, told Theo Zwanziger to end his criticisms of the Qatar 2022 award.
Zwanziger, though being forced out as president of the DFB, has been appointed to head up FIFA’s task force studying a revision of the world federation’s statutes.
Blatter said: “When the 2022 decision was made, he was not yet a member of the executive committee. Recently, I told the committee that we have to speak with one voice and show solidarity with one another: at least as long as no negative new facts about the decision emerge.”
The 75-year-old insisted that he still hoped to open up the contentious ISL files, perhaps by the end of his month unless any further appeals were launched. FIFA, he said, would no longer be party to such appeals. Whatever the files eventually reveal, however, he said: “There will be no earthquakes.”
He denied once more that FIFA had sold World Cup TV rights in the Caribbean to now-disgraced Jack Warner for one dollar and suggested that one of the major errors if his leadership was its success.
Blatter said: “I know what my mistake was: I have made the FIFA profitable again after years of deficit when I took office in 1998.”
By Keir Radnedge