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Sepp Blatter in 2009
Born March 10, 1936 (1936-03-10) (age 74)
Valais, Switzerland
Nationality Switzerland Swiss
Occupation President of FIFA
Salary Unknown
Spouse(s) Graziella Bianca (December 2002 - 2004)
Children Corinne Blatter

Joseph "Sepp" Blatter[1] (born 10 March 1936) is President of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association). He was elected on 8 June 1998, succeeding Dr. João Havelange.

Contents

Biography

Sepp Blatter studied in Sion, Switzerland before receiving a degree in business and economics from the University of Lausanne 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.[2][3][4]

Blatter first made his name in the world of football in 1973 as Chairman of the Zurich Brown Shirts.[5] 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 and was re-elected unopposed for another four years on 31 May 2007 even though only 66 of 207 FIFA members nominated him.[6] Sepp Blatter is seeking another term as FIFA president as of December 2009.

Controversy

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Allegations of corruption

Sepp Blatter's 1998 election to the presidency of FIFA over UEFA President Lennart Johansson occurred amidst much controversy.[7][8] His 2002 candidacy has been marked with rumours of financial irregularities and backroom dealings,[9] culminating with direct accusations of bribery, by a third party, 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 in 1998.[10]

Amidst internal divisions ,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.[11][12] 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,[13] and the dossier was handed to the Swiss authorities, but they cleared him of any wrong doing and FIFA had to pay all the costs.[14] An internal investigation within FIFA was halted by Blatter because members of it broke confidentiality agreements.[15] Zen-Ruffinen was removed from office by Blatter immediately before the FIFA World Cup 2002.[16]

2006 FIFA World Cup

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, Blatter lambasted the officiating, and said that Ivanov should have given himself a yellow card for his poor performance as a referee.[17] However he later regretted his words and promised to officially apologise to Ivanov.[18]

During the 2006 FIFA World Cup final in Germany, Blatter's absence during the prize-podium event was noted and criticized in international media. It was claimed that the reason Blatter did not attend was because he was upset that Italy won instead of France.[19]

2010 FIFA World Cup

Blatter publicly laughed at a request by the FAI that Ireland be the 33rd entrant following a controversial hand ball incident in their qualification.[20]

2018/2022 FIFA World Cup

It was reported that Blatter had "cut an unofficial deal with UEFA head Michel Platini" to ensure Europe would receive the 2018 World Cup, such that if the non European bids not withdraw from 2018 "they will find themselves frozen out and not given any backing by the FIFA High Command, damaging their chances of being serious contenders for the second tournament."[21]

Women's football

Blatter incurred the ire of women footballers in 2004 when he suggested that women should "wear tighter shorts and low cut shirts... to create a more female aesthetic" and attract more male fans.[22] 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. 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.[23][24][25][26][27]

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

Sepp Blatter has received the following awards:[28]

  • The Olympic Order
  • Honorary member of the Swiss Football Association
  • Numerous awards from clubs, national associations and confederations
  • Knighthood (with the title of Dato') from the Sultanate of Pahang
  • The 'Order of Good Hope', awarded by the Republic of South Africa
  • 'Order of Independence (1st class)' of Jordan
  • 'Grand Cordon du Wissam Alaouite' of Morocco
  • 'Medalla al Mérito Deportivo ' of Bolivia.
  • 'Grand Cordon de l'Ordre de la République Tunisienne' of Tunisia
  • 'International Humanitarian of the Year' as well as the 'Golden Charter of Peace and Humanitarianism' from the International Humanitarian League for Peace and Tolerance
  • Recipient of the 'American Global Award for Peace'
  • Recipient of the Rank of Grand Officer of Wissam Al Arch (Morocco)
  • Recipient of the UEFA Order of Merit in Diamond
  • Recipient of the Award of Merit from Yemen
  • Knight of the French Legion of Honour
  • Recipient of the 'Order of the Two Niles' from Sudan
  • Recipient of the 'Gare St Lazare Award' from Central African Republic
  • Honoured in Djibouti as a 'Commandeur de L'Ordre National du 27 Juin 1977'
  • Supreme companion of 'Tambo' of President of the Republic of South Africa: Thabo Mbeki
  • Ordre de la Médaille de la Reconnaissance 'Commander Grade' on behalf of the prime minister of the Central African Republic Célestin Leroy Gaoumbalet
  • Honorary Doctor of Arts, De Montfort University (Leicester)
  • Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth
  • Honorary Citizenship in Visp (hometown, Switzerland)
  • Honorary member of Real Madrid
  • Recipient of the 'Tenth Anniversary Soccerex Merit Award'
  • Recipient of the 'AFC Diamond of Asia Award' 2006
  • Order of the National Olympic Committee
  • 'Prince Yaroslav the Wise' Order V grade in Ukraine
  • Order of 'Dustlik' (Friendship) in Uzbekistan
  • 'Danaker' in Kyrgyzstan
  • 'Crown of Peace' in India
  • Doctor of Letters Honoris Causa of the International Univerity in Geneva
  • Order of Francisco de Miranda - First Class, Palace Miraflores, Venezuela 2007, received from Hugo Chavez - President of the Republic of Venezuela
  • Diploma of Honorary Doctor of the Azerbaijan State Academy of physical culture and sport
  • Honor Diploma from Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan Republic President
  • Honorary Doctoral Degree of Business Administration in Sport Management, Bangkok [29]
  • Honorary Citizen by Governor of Bangkok Apirak Kosayothin
  • Bahrain Medal of the First Degree
  • Honorary Membership of Swiss Olympic Association
  • Best World Sports award from the Graduate School of Business Administration of Zurich 2008
  • The 'Wissam Al-Qods (Order Jerusalem)' distinction, presented by H.E. President Mahmoud Abbas.
  • Davos Crystal for outstanding service and achievement in sport
  • Japan's 'Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun'
  • 'Dostik' Order from the President of the Kazakhstan Republic, Nursultan Abish-uly Nazarbayev

References

  1. ^ "FIFA President's Biography". FIFA. http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/federation/president/biography.html. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  2. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/general/korea-move-is-a-blow-for-blatter-686063.html
  3. ^ http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/worldcup06/2006/06/29/wrong_again.html
  4. ^ http://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/homegrown-revolution-1403718.html
  5. ^ Sepp Batter revealed from CNN's "Revealed" series; retrieved 2009-07-23.
  6. ^ "Blatter set for third Fifa term". BBC Online. 2007-04-02. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/6518647.stm. Retrieved 2007-04-03. 
  7. ^ Denis Campbell and Simon Kuper, $1m 'fixed' the FIFA poll, author claims, The Observer Special Report, The Guardian Unlimited, 21 March 1999.
  8. ^ Andrew Jennings, Havelange to Blatter, the dynasty based on corruption, ESPN.com Soccernet, 28 February 2002.
  9. ^ FIFA president Blatter accused of corruption, The Irish Times citing Reuters, 04-05-02.
  10. ^ Bribery allegation over FIFA poll, CNN.com/World, 28 February 2002.
  11. ^ Blatter could face corruption probe, BBC Sports, 4 May 2002.
  12. ^ Time.com, 19 May 2002.
  13. ^ Fifa sues Blatter, BBC Sports, 8 May 2002.
  14. ^ Blatter cleared of corruption, swissinfo.org, 4 December 2002.
  15. ^ Blatter suspends Fifa investigation, BBC Sports, 12 April 2002.
  16. ^ Blatter set to sack critic, BBC Sports, 30 May 2002.
  17. ^ "Blatter criticizes referee Ivanov". BBC. 2006-06-26. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/world_cup_2006/5116414.stm. Retrieved 2006-06-26. 
  18. ^ "World-Blatter regrets criticism of referee Ivanov". Reuters. 2006-07-04. http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldFootballNews&storyID=2006-07-04T114007Z_01_L04777073_RTRIDST_0_SPORT-SOCCER-WORLD-BLATTER-IVANOV.XML. 
  19. ^ http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=399141&cc=3436
  20. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/dec/01/sepp-blatter-embarrassment-fifa-liam-brady
  21. ^ http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/Boost-for-England-s-2018-World-Cup-bid-as-FIFA-boss-Sepp-Blatter-and-UEFA-boss-Michel-Platini-want-European-host-article327815.html
  22. ^ "Soccer chief's plan to boost women's game? Hotpants". the Guardian. 2004-01-16. http://football.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/0,1563,1124460,00.html. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  23. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/leagues/premierleague/4945946/Fifas-Sepp-Blatter-fears-Premier-League-damage.html
  24. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/mar/06/fifa-sepp-blatter-premier-league
  25. ^ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/european_football/article5822358.ece
  26. ^ http://www.sportbusiness.com/news/167985/blatter-calls-for-foreign-owner-rules
  27. ^ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/premier_league/article4895018.ece
  28. ^ http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/federation/president/honours.html FIFA President's Honours
  29. ^ http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/federation/president/news/newsid=634549.html President Blatter honoured in Asia

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