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Joseph "Sepp" Blatter (born 10 March 1936) is the eighth and current President of FIFAmarker (Fédération Internationale de Football Association). He was elected on 8 June 1998, succeeding Dr. João Havelange.

Biography

Sepp Blatter studied in Sion, Switzerland before getting a degree in business and economics from the University of Lausannemarker in 1959.

Blatter has a long and varied history including posts such as Head of Public Relations of the Valaisan Tourist Board in his native Switzerland, as well as General Secretary of the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation. He was Director of Sports Timing and Relations of Longines S.A. and was involved in the organization of the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games. In the early 1970s, Blatter was elected president of the World Society of Friends of Suspenders, an organisation who tried to stop women replacing suspender belts with pantyhose.

Blatter first made his name in the world of football in 1973 as Chairman of the Zurich Brown Shirts. Since 1975 Blatter has been working at FIFA, first as Technical Director (1975-1981), then General Secretary (1981-1998) before his election as FIFA President in 1998. He was re-elected as head of FIFA in 2002, defeating in the election, and was re-elected unopposed for another four years on 31 May 2007 even though only 66 of 207 FIFA members nominated him.

Controversy

Allegations of corruption

Sepp Blatter's 1998 election to the presidency of FIFA over UEFA President Lennart Johansson occurred amidst much controversy. His 2002 candidacy has been marked with rumours of financial irregularities and backroom dealings, culminating with direct accusations of bribery made in the British press by the Farra Ado, vice-president of the CAF and president of the Somalian football association, who claimed to have been offered $100,000 to vote for Blatter.

Also in 2002, FIFA's secretary-general, Blatter's deputy and former protégé Michel Zen-Ruffinen, drew up a 30-page dossier outlining allegations of financial mismanagement within the organisation. The dossier alleged that the collapse of FIFA's marketing partner ISL had led to losses of up to $100m under Blatter's management. The allegations were backed by Johansson, and the dossier was handed to the Swiss authorities, but in the end no action was taken. An internal investigation within FIFA was halted by Blatter, which was seen by many as proof of his guilt. Zen-Ruffinen was removed from office by Blatter immediately before the FIFA World Cup 2002.

2006 FIFA World Cup

During the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Blatter's absence during the prize-podium event was noted and criticized in international media, as it was considered odd by many that FIFA's president was not present during the climax of FIFA's biggest event. Some people claimed that the reason Blatter didnt attend was because he was upset that Italy won instead of France.

Blatter also made the press for comments made after a controversial second-round match between Portugal and the Netherlands, which saw referee Valentin Ivanov issuing a record 16 yellow cards and four red cards. After the match, Blatter lambasted the officiating, and said that Ivanov should have given himself a yellow card for his poor performance as a referee. However, on the day when Ivanov turned 45, Blatter said he regretted his words and promised to officially apologise to Ivanov.

2010 FIFA World Cup

Blatter publically laughed at a request by the FAI that Ireland to be the 33rd entrant to the World Cup. Their request to him was a joke, despite FIFA changing the rules to the European qualificaton campaign when it be became apparent that France would not obtain an automatic qualification spot. This request was as a result of the Hand of Henry affair. The reputation of FIFA suffered especially at a time when it is trying to encourage fair play.

Women's football

Blatter incurred the ire of women footballers in 2004 when he suggested that women should "wear tighter shorts... to create a more female aesthetic", remarks which were ridiculed in the press.

Foreign Quotas

Blatter incurred much criticism during 2007 and 2008 for his persistence in attempting to change EU employment law regarding the number of foreign players football clubs can field at any one time. His plans are to set a restriction to 5 foreign players and having 6 players from the said team's own nationality. Blatter believes this would help the countries' national sides by having more national players playing in their leagues.

This is hotly debated among the footballing world with mixed views. Some believe it would benefit national sides and others believe that it will lower the standard of football being played in the country. Blatter has often referred to the English Premier League as one of the major problems in football and uses it as an example, due to the influence of foreign players, coaches and owners in the top teams.

Cristiano Ronaldo "slave" comments

In 2008, Real Madrid launched several attempts to lure Manchester United star midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo to Spain in spite of Ronaldo's valid contract until 2012. When Ronaldo signalled his desire to leave, Manchester United categorically declined his request. Blatter then said that "Manchester United were effectively indulging in 'modern slavery' by refusing their Portuguese winger a transfer to Real Madrid." These comments were met with outrage in the football world, including by black players like Paul Parker, who criticised: "He obviously doesn't realise the significance of the term and it's insulting to all the people who have been real slaves through the ages - the guys who would get hung, drawn and quartered or beaten for being slaves rather than paid millions of pounds to play football." English managers Harry Redknapp and Steve Bruce dismissed Blatter's statement, with Bruce saying that footballers have 'the best job in the world' and Redknapp saying that Blatter was 'way off beam with those comments'.

The Telegraph has pointed out the discrepancy between Blatter's comments on the Ronaldo case and that of Andy Webster, who in 2007 breached his contract and left Heart of Midlothian to play for Wigan Athletic. FIFA ordered him to pay Hearts compensation of £625,000, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport was asked to rule on the case and reduced the payment to £150,000, which was the value of the remaining contract. Sepp Blatter severely criticised this due to the lack of a punitive element: "The decision which CAS took on 30 January 2008, is very damaging for football and a Pyrrhic victory for those players and their agents, who toy with the idea of rescinding contracts before they have been fulfilled." He continued, "Because of this unfortunate decision, the principle of contractual stability, as agreed in 2001 with the European Commission as part of the new transfer regulations and which restored order to the transfer system, has been deemed less important than the short-term interests of the player involved."

Changes to the game made under Blatter

  • The "silver goal" replaced the "golden goal" rule in extra time of play-off matches. Under the "golden goal" rule, the match ends immediately one side scores in extra time. The "silver goal" rule states that the match will end at the half-time period in extra time if one team is leading – otherwise the match will continue until the end of the extra time period. Some fans believe that this rule change makes the game less exciting, while others felt that the game is more fair as a result. The new rule was first applied in the Euro 2004 competition, but it has since been discontinued along with golden goal. All competitions have now reverted to the traditional extra time rules, i.e. they must play the full amount of extra time, no matter what the score is.
  • After the 2002 World Cup, the current World Cup champion no longer automatically qualifies for the next World Cup finals, as was the case for the champions of all 16 previous World Cups.
  • National associations must now enforce immediate suspensions of all players sent off during a game, even if television replays offer compelling evidence of a player's innocence. In particular, Blatter insists that a referee's judgement must be seen as final and that mistakes are part of the game. The FA, however, has refused to follow this directive, and allows appeals against straight red cards (though not those resulting from two yellows).
  • Under Blatter, starting in 2004, the game implemented the booking of players who remove their shirts after scoring a goal, as well as those who are guilty of 'over-zealous celebrations'. The rationale for this rule change is that football is a global sport, and thus the sensibilities of conservative nations and spectators must be respected.
  • In 2007, Blatter decided that no football matches will be played above 2500 metres (8200 ft) above sea level. This arbitrary number was revised to 3000 metres on 26 June 2007. This may have been aimed to split the opposition group formed by Colombia, Ecuador (who play at altitudes below 3000 metres but above 2500), Bolivia and Peru (with stadia above 3000 metres). This has dramatic consequences for the Bolivian national team, whose stadium is located more than 3000 metres above sea level. Blatter commented that football matches at extreme altitudes belong to the past, and that they are risky for players' health. However, no comprehensive medical studies have been shown to prove this. The Andean nations argue that playing in hot, sea level temperature is in fact more dangerous, citing the death of Marc-Vivien Foé as an example.


Honours



References

  1. http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/general/korea-move-is-a-blow-for-blatter-686063.html
  2. http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/worldcup06/2006/06/29/wrong_again.html
  3. http://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/homegrown-revolution-1403718.html
  4. Sepp Batter revealed from CNN's "Revealed" series; retrieved 2009-07-23.
  5. Denis Campbell and Simon Kuper, $1m 'fixed' the FIFA poll, author claims, The Observer Special Report, The Guardian Unlimited, 21 March 1999.
  6. Andrew Jennings, Havelange to Blatter, the dynasty based on corruption, ESPN.com Soccernet, 28 February 2002.
  7. FIFA president Blatter accused of corruption, The Irish Times citing Reuters, 04-05-02.
  8. Bribery allegation over FIFA poll, CNN.com/World, 28 February 2002.
  9. Blatter could face corruption probe, BBC Sports, 4 May 2002.
  10. [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,238575,00.html, Time.com, 19 May 2002.
  11. Fifa sues Blatter, BBC Sports, 8 May 2002.
  12. Blatter cleared of corruption, swissinfo.org, 4 December 2002.
  13. Blatter suspends Fifa investigation, BBC Sports, 12 April 2002.
  14. Blatter set to sack critic, BBC Sports, 30 May 2002.
  15. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/dec/01/sepp-blatter-embarrassment-fifa-liam-brady
  16. Cristiano Ronaldo agrees with Sepp Blatter that he is 'slave' to Manchester United, www.telegraph.co.uk; 11 July 2008
  17. Bruce rejects Blatter 'slavery' outburst, www.soccernet.com; 11 July 2008
  18. Sepp Blatter, is this really slavery? - Telegraph
  19. Sepp Blatter, is this really slavery? - Telegraph
  20. FIFA: Honours, Sepp Blatter.


External links




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