Sepp Blatter: Highlights of FIFA Chief's Ridiculous 2011
Even by his standards, 2011 was a banner year for FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
But not all of those came in the same year. In 2011 alone, Blatter managed to survive a corruption controversy, spark a racial controversy and run unopposed for a fourth term as FIFA President.
It was a busy year, and Blatter said and did a lot of ridiculous things.
Let's get right to them.
Bribery? What Bribery?
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In May, a FIFA ethics committee provisionally suspended Vice-President Mohammed Bin Hammam and Executive Committee member Jack Warner in relation to allegations of bribery.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter escaped punishment because, to quote the ethics committee, "no investigation is warranted."
Independent reports, however, implicated Blatter. From Al-Jazeera:
[Blatter] was accused of knowing about cash payments allegedly made by Bin Hammam to national associations at a FIFA conference in Trinidad in return for their votes in the presidential election.
But the ethics committee cleared him of any violation, saying that he was under no obligation to report any suspicions he might have had regarding alleged bribery.
In a prepared statement, Blatter said of the controversy:
The FIFA ethics committee has reached its decisions. I do not wish to comment in detail. But simply to say that I regret what has happened in the last few days and weeks. FIFA's image has suffered a great deal as a result, much to the disappointment of FIFA itself and all football fans.
Blatter didn't regret it enough to keep him from running for re-election as FIFA President.
Re-Election as FIFA President
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In June, Blatter won re-election to his fourth term as FIFA President. Part of his campaign platform was that, if elected, he would not run again in the future.
Bin Hammam, of alleged bribery renown, considered a run before deciding against it. Despite running unopposed, Blatter won only 186 of the 203 available votes.
That didn't cause him to tone down his acceptance speech at all:
I thank you for your trust and confidence from the bottom of my heart and together we will have four more years - provided the Lord gives me the life, the energy and the strength to continue on our path.
I'm happy today we were once again able to bring solidarity and unity into FIFA. We shall move forward, we will put FIFA's ship back on the right course in clear, transparent waters. We need some time, we cannot do it overnight, but we will do it.
I am deeply moved, I am honoured and I thank you. This is a new challenge and I accept it.
Conspirators Get Theirs, Sort of
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Later in June, Warner resigned from his posts as FIFA Vice-President and CONCACAF President.
FIFA inexplicably ended its investigation into Warner. In fact, FIFA even went so far as to say Warner would be presumed innocent:
Bin Hammam, the man who contemplated a run against Blatter in the FIFA Presidential election, wasn't so lucky. He received a lifetime ban from football in July. Clearly, the two situations had nothing to do with each other.
In his defense, Bin Hammam's legal team said the following:
The Fifa ethics committee has apparently based its decision upon so called 'circumstantial' evidence which our case has clearly demonstrated was bogus and founded on lies told by a senior FIFA official.
We have strictly observed the legal rules regarding the confidentiality of these proceedings and not shared our evidence, which is compelling, with the media.
Fifa, either directly or through third parties, appears to have done the opposite with selective and continual leaking of documentation that has been part of these proceedings to the media in order to influence public opinion and create bias.
We are confident of the strength of our case and invite Fifa to make available now to the media a full transcript of these proceedings.
Anyone wonder who that "senior FIFA official" is?
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After a pair of alleged racist incidents rocked English football this fall, Blatter in November waded into the pool with this jaw-dropper:
"There is no racism [on the field], but maybe there is a word or gesture that is not correct. The one affected by this should say this is a game and shake hands."
Follow Blatter's logic through and you'll find yourself asking: 'Yeah, why can't black people just sit down and try to understand where the Ku Klux Klan are coming from over a cuppa, eh? What's the matter with them?'
Blatter finally delivered an over-the-top apology/non-apology, claiming he could not resign because he had to stay and fight racism. That is to say, he had to stick around and fight the kind of stuff he himself had just said.
Just another year in the life of Sepp Blatter.