Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, is not like the Sheriff of Nottingham. Nor is he a "heartless parasite" or a "dictator," as he claims his critics would say. Rather, he's a "servant of football" or, better yet, the head of a Robin Hood-like organization.
So said Blatter in a rambling and bizarre keynote address at Oxford University on Friday. The speech has already been flagged by several major media outlets, and it's easy to understand why. Here's just one of the gold nuggets of unintentional comedy it produced, as reported by the Associated Press' Rob Harris:
Blatter: "You might have been led to believe FIFA is the evil Sherriff of Nottingham of football ...we have more in common with Robin Hood"— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) October 25, 2013
And there's more. When his critics aren't comparing him to the Sheriff of Nottingham, he's apparently a Bond villain in their eyes:
Blatter:Critics "would have u believe that I sit in my office w/a sinister grin,gently stroking the chin of an expensive, white Persian cat"— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) October 25, 2013
It goes on from there, and it's really worth your time to scour Harris' Twitter timeline for more. But once we've all finished laughing, it's also worth reflecting on Blatter's statements in the current context of the sport.
As usual, FIFA and Blatter have attracted criticism in recent times for a variety of reasons. One hot-button issue remains the scandal-ridden 2022 World Cup, which is scheduled to be held in the scorching heat of Qatar.
Last month, Blatter uncharacteristically admitted that FIFA might have made a mistake in awarding the Cup to Qatar, and if that was a sign that his critics are getting to him, then Friday evening's remarks qualified as a klaxon of the same.
Considering the overall tone of Blatter's reign, that's probably not a bad thing. But instead of showing humility and introspection, his comments emitted paranoia. No surprise there. And his complaint that he has been made into a "scapegoat"—per the AP article—reeks of a victimization complex.
As head of the governing body of the world's most popular sport, Blatter will always draw criticism, but that doesn't give him license to whine about it. Besides, his self-pitying comments avoid the glaring fact that he's made more than his share of mistakes through the years.
Sheriff of Nottingham? Probably not. Bond villain? Well, maybe that's not so outlandish.
But Robin Hood? Yeah, Sepp, go and tell that to the people of South Africa. And while you're at it, quit being such a crybaby.