Joke about FIFA on Swiss TV ends with communications director leaving his job

Let us mourn the exit of FIFA communications boss Walter de Gregorio, perhaps the greatest public relations guru of an embattled and collapsing regime since Baghdad Bob.

Take his response to the arrests: “This for Fifa is good.” Or his claim that Sepp Blatter was feeling “relaxed” about the whole situation. “Well he is not dancing in his office. He is very calm, he is fully co-operative with everything. That’s what I meant. He’s not a happy man, saying, wow wow.”

Why would FIFA possibly want to part company with this chilled-out quotemeister? Maybe it has something to do with the end of a recent half-hour interview on Swiss TV, when he made this joke:

“The Fifa president Sepp Blatter, the director of communications and the general secretary are all sitting in a car – who is driving? The police!”

Nice going, Walter – adding a bit of levity, putting a human face on the situation, showing that FIFA can laugh at itself. Except that it apparently can’t.

Here’s a release from the organization today: “Walter De Gregorio has decided to relinquish his office with immediate effect as Director of Communications & Public Affairs. Mr De Gregorio joined FIFA on 14 September 2011 and will serve FIFA on a consultancy basis until the end of this year, wow wow.”

(Two words have been added for effect.)

Did De Gregorio decide he’s had enough firefighting, or did Blatter decide that one of his closest aides mining the crisis for comedy gold (OK, comedy bronze) at his expense was the last straw? We’ll probably never know… unless one day the answer turns up in U.S. court filings thanks to a whistleblower.

But it’s almost as if the Swiss don’t seem to have much of a sense of humor.