Sepp Blatter: My Downfall Is America’s Fault
Sepp Blatter blamed America for his eight-year ban from soccer.
Years of allegations of bribery and graft finally caught up to Sepp Blatter on Monday, with FIFA banning its former president for eight years for ethics violations. But the embattled Blatter placed the cause of his downfall squarely at the feet of the United States.
“If we had awarded the World Cup in 2022 to the USA, we would not be here,” Blatter said during a press conference.
Blatter spoke after FIFA’s ethics committee found him guilty of violating internal rules, connected to an alleged 2011 payment of 2 million Swiss francs, or about $2 million, he approved for Michel Platini, a FIFA vice president. Platini, head of the Union of European Football Associations who was once the front-runner to replace Blatter, was also exiled from football Monday for eight years.
Blatter’s comments show he’s still not ready to accept the end of his tenure as FIFA chief, which began in 1998. For years, he and other FIFA officials have been dogged by allegations of bribery, most recently in connection with the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 tournament in Qatar.
But in a sense, the Swiss citizen is correct. Since the United States launched its mob-style investigation into FIFA earlier this year, sweeping up lower-level officials while closing in on Blatter, soccer’s global governing body has been forced to confront wrongdoing within its ranks.
Blatter has still not been charged with any crime by U.S. or Swiss authorities, but his offices have been raided and he has been questioned in connection with the joint investigation.
The rest of Monday’s press conference showed just how out of touch Blatter remains amid the havoc he has presided over as FIFA chief. In his opening statement, he name-dropped the late Nelson Mandela when talking about the award of the 2010 World Cup to South Africa.
“I regret I am a punching ball, and for my organization I have served with my heart and conscience for 41 years,” said Blatter, who wore a bandage just below his right eye. “Specifically, I [have] regret for all the team members working in FIFA.”
He also promised to fight the ban.
“First of all, I was sad, but now I’m not sad,” Blatter added when asked for his reaction to the punishment. “I am combative.”
And no Sepp Blatter news conference would be complete without a quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator character.
“I’ll be back,” Blatter said as he exited.
Photo credit: Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images