Sure, it was a thrilling, goal-laden game and a dream result for the Unites States in Vancouver on Sunday. But something was missing from the celebrations, something very important. Something 79-year-old and Swiss.
We’ve grown used to the sight of Sepp Blatter flashing a gauche grin and looking stiff in his suit as trophies are handed over to cavorting, boisterous players and the ticker-tape rains down. Alas, Abby Wambach and friends were denied this pleasure because the FIFA president stayed home in case FBI agents disguised as Shannon Boxx and Heather O’Reilly were planning to arrest him on the podium.
“Due to their current commitments in Zurich, the FIFA president and the FIFA secretary general will remain at the FIFA headquarters,” a FIFA spokesperson told the Canadian Press earlier in the week. Because sometimes a FIFA president’s simply too busy to attend a World Cup final.
Blatter was more forthcoming in a weekend interview with Welt am Sonntag, in which he said that “until everything is clarified I won’t take any travel risks.” It’s surely only a matter of time before he’s rooming with Edward Snowden in Moscow.
The other highlight from the interview: Blatter’s claim that it wasn’t corrupt FIFA executives who paved the way for the Qatar World Cup, but former French and German presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Christian Wulff.
“Messrs Sarkozy and Wulff tried to influence their voting representatives. That’s why we now have a World Cup in Qatar. Those who decided it should take responsibility for it,” Blatter said. “I act on the leadership principal. If a majority of the executive committee wants a World Cup in Qatar then I have to accept that.” Democracy. Whatcha gonna do, eh?
As for the suggestion that FIFA should do more to protect migrant workers in Qatar, Blatter said that German companies “and many more had projects in Qatar even before the World Cup was awarded.” So that’s OK then. If everyone else is treating migrants badly, it’s not FIFA’s problem. Thanks, Sepp. Missed you in Canada, buddy!