Brands that deserve to die, Part 2. Sepp Blatter (no balls at FIFA HQ)

by Andrew Watson on 28 June 2012

I like this series. I might rename it “why changing the guy at the top can change the whole perception of your organisation”.

Like the mightily dislikeable Michael O Leary, Sepp Blatter’s tone from the top of FIFA does it a dis-service. Pick your words from the following list and feel free to add any that may have been missed, because I am sure that Mr Blatter does some charity work and is loved by Mrs Blatter and all the little Blatters, but as CEO of World football he is just the wrong man. Word association words:

  • cheat
  • despot
  • power crazy
  • exclusive (ie the opposite of inclusive)
  • liar
  • embarrassment
  • anachronism
  • closet racist, possibly.

Basically just a twat!

The Guardian ran this super piece about the fine imposed on Niklas Bendtner for showing his Paddy Power sponsored undies at Euro 2012 and comparing it to the fines that have been imposed for rascism. The Guardian doesn’t like Mr Blatter at all, and, as the World’s leading liberal voice I agree with every word they say.

In business the character of a business is set from its top. The CEO is the public and private manifestation of its character and ethics. In football or indeed politics (don’t think you’re exempt Bashar al-Assad, you will be shot and die horribly like Gaddafi, you know it, because despots never win in the long term) or any walk of life, the person at the top will determine its character.

Put Sepp Blatter at the top and what you get is what you saw last night in Spain vs Portugal. A cheating-fest. Every tackle was exaggerated, every foul made to look worse than it was, every falling over in the box made to look like the penalty that it wasn’t. Don’t get me started on the animal that is Pepe (just watch this if you want to see this animal in action) or that preening, diving, cheating, creature that is Ronaldo-both horrendous examples to kids and to the World in general.

FFS (for football’s sake) don’t just jump on every bandwagon FIFA (be it diving, false card waving, goal-line technology or the next thing), change the CEO. Watch games with integrity (golf, tennis, rugby, as an example, watch Novak Djokovic self-call a line error and lose a point in Paris at Roland Garros, in the final) and then watch the Spain vs Portugal game last night with shame and embarrassment at how low the World’s favourite game has stooped under the leadership of Sepp Blatter.

My wife watched it because she is Spanish. Half an hour into the second half she saw the animal Pepe commit his nth foul of the night and his yth false squeal when fouled and decided to go to bed. The super slow-motion replays are just plain embarrassing. Every player, even the fabulous Iniesta and the world class Xavi do it.

Its Gladwell’s Broken Windows theory in practice. If you live in a neighbourhood where all the windows are broken you break windows and generally cause chaos. Fix the windows and give people somewhere to live that they are proud of and, amazingly, not only petty crime but even the murder rate drops.

What would be lovely is for Mr Blatter to step down gracefully before he destroys FIFAs credibility any further (why does a country like Switzerland tolerate this despot). Failing that we need Kofi Annan to develop a peace plan before the troops have to be brought in and Mr Blatter is shown on YouTube being dragged out of a under-road tunnel and slapped around as the latest despot victim of Arab Spring to be brought down to Earth.

Good will always win. Either way this particular football despot needs to go.

To end with, a quite funny story. My family and I went to Zurich 3 weeks ago for a holiday. On one of the rainy days, we decided to visit FIFA HQ. What a beautiful building, resembling a football stadium surrounded by something like 12 full size groomed pitches and one amazing astroturf pitch not anything like the ones I used to play on at Platt Lane in Manchester. Dani, my 14 year old and I really wanted a kickabout but we’d not brought our football. So, we thought, here we are at the home of football (not soccer btw), we’ll buy or borrow one.

In reception, the very polite lady told us the only balls they had were for show, and they were beautifully shown, all Adidas balls through the World Cup years from 1970. We thought to grab one but that seemed wrong. It’s ok, we’ll go to the shop I thought. Guess what, they don’t sell balls in the shop (that’s actually very funny isn’t it?). Lots of keyrings, mugs, etc but no balls. That’s ok I said, we’ll go to the gym (you know where this is heading don’t you?). Sorry sir, the only ball we have here is this one here, right beside me on a stand, and that’s for show only. Our last resort was to go to the pitches, to find a group of boys training……………for American Football.

So, no balls at FIFA. Given the longevity of his despotic reign, that feels like an accurate summary.


{ 1 comment }

Nick White 06.28.12 at 12:50 pm

You are an enigma Andrew. Sorry I’ll rephrase that you are a Geordie enigma.

The Beautiful Game…….not!

Some brands are just beyond redemption.

My son’s first and last match was seeing Leeds United beaten 4:1 at home by Arsenal (we were in the director’s box) and then having him hear the worst language in his life from the Leeds CEO 10 yards away was enough for me. The only other football match I had watched live before that occasion was in the early 197o’s. It was Leeds United v Man U and I actually shook hands with Gerorge Best, Bobby Chalton and Matt Busby, but the violence during the match was so horrendous my farther, to his great sorrow, never took me to another match.

The game deserves Sepp Blatter.

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