Tag Sepp Blatter

Tag Sepp Blatter

United’s secret plan to bring Blatter on board

Olaf Priol April 1, 2015 Tags: , , Just for fun 16 comments
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Rant’s man in Switzerland uncovers secret talks at an advanced stage.

Manchester United’s ruling Glazer family is holding secret talks with Seppe Blatter as a precursor to the FIFA President joining the Board this summer, Rant has learned. In a controversial move, it is believed that the talks are at an advanced stage, with a formal announcement possible after the FIFA presidential elections conclude this year. Rant understands that talks were brokered by new FIFA vice president and fomer United managing director David Gill.

Although no formal agreement has yet been signed, sources close to septuagenarian have indicated the Swiss executive’s role will be wide-ranging, including oversight of United’s commercial and media departments, and political liaison. The Glazer family believes Blatter will broker relationships for the club at the highest political and commercial levels those with knowledge of the deal told Rant.

The Glazers’ approach to Blatter is unlikely to be popular with supporters or the English FA, although the family is no stranger to controversy. The American family is approaching its 10th anniversary in charge at Old Trafford after completing an aggressive leveraged buyout in May 2005. The Glazers landed the £690 million buyout cost on the club’s books, leaving a previously debt-free institution highly leveraged and spending millions per year on repayments and interest.

Blatter has been FIFA President since 1998 after beating Swede Lenham Johanssen to the post in controversial circumstances. The 79-year-old has held on to the Presidency despite controversy over media rights, a lack of commercial transparency, accusations of corruption, misogyny and racism at the Swiss-based non-profit. Under Blatter’s Presidency the 2022 World Cup was awarded to the tiny gulf state of Qatar and switched to a winter tournament.

Rant understands that talks between United and Blatter began in the New Year when it became apparent Gill was on course to be elected to the game’s governing body. If formally signed, Blatter will work a dual role with the governing body and United.

“Seppe sees this as more than another easy pay-day,” a source told Rant. “This is a shot at global media redemption at the world’s most popular club. Seppe is determined to leave a legacy in Manchester.”

United’s board is made up of six Glazer siblings – Avram, Joel, Bryan, Edward, Darcie, and Kevin – together with Group Managing Director Richard Arnold, Commercial Director, Jamieson Reigle, and independent directors Robert Leitão, Manu Sawhney and John Hooks.

In a complicated ownership structure the club is registered in the Cayman Islands, but listed on the New York stock exchange with a dual-class share issuance. The Glazers are firm in their belief that Blatter will be a good cultural and executive fit with the Board, sources told Rant.

“Seppe is intimately familiar with Grand Cayman’s secretive banking system,” the source said. “New York is also one of his favourite destinations, particularly the neighbourhood around Hell’s Kitchen. After all its no secret that Blatter is the spawn of satan’s anus, possibly even the devil himself.”

Blatter enters, and then fuels, race debate

Ed November 16, 2011 Tags: , , , Opinion 21 comments

Race, it seems, is top of the editorial agenda after (insert obligatory ‘alleged’ here) incidents involving Luis Suarez and John Terry in the past month. Each is seemingly a sad indictment of the English game, where racism it appears, still thrives. Suarez, claims Patrice Evra, called the defender a “n*gger” at “least ten times” during Manchester United’s visit to Anfield in September. Meanwhile, Terry was caught on camera calling Queens Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand a “black c*nt”. The only debate is whether Terry’s excuse of context (“No I didn’t call you a…”) is genuine or not. Ferdinand, and his big brother Rio, have been deafening with their silence on the matter.

Disturbing though the incidents are it says much for our lack of progress in combating racism that the clubs and supporters involved have divided largely along partisan lines. To Liverpool’s management, Suarez’ innocence was never in doubt. So much so, that manager Kenny Dalglish has repeatedly called for “the accuser” Evra to face sanction. Meanwhile, Liverpool supporters have engaged in an orchestrated smear campaign against Evra with erroneous ‘evidence’ of the Frenchman repeatedly ‘playing the race card’ distributed liberally by more vocal Scousers.

On Wednesday the FA charged Suarez with using “abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour towards Manchester United’s Patrice Evra contrary to FA rules.”

Similarly, Chelsea and the club’s supporters have unilaterally backed Terry’s claim of misunderstanding. Indeed, Chelsea fans were audibly chanting anti-Ferdinand slogans as the Londoners met Genk in the Champions League. Would United supporters behave differently if, hypothetically speaking, Wayne Rooney faced a similar charge? It is a question that supporters should honestly ask and answer.

In fact the controversies of recent weeks have unveiled the shroud of denial about racism in the game. One need only peruse popular social media sites to discover a tsunami of bigotry among match-going fans. Ferdinand was subjected to the worse kind of racist abuse on his own account, from the very supporters defending Terry.

No wonder, with denial coming from the very top: Sepp Blatter, who claimed in an interview with CNN that racism does not exist in football.

“I would deny it. There is no racism,” Blatter told the news station.

“There is maybe one of the players towards another, he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one, but also the one who is affected by that. He should say that ‘this is a game. We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen’, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.

“I think the whole world is aware of the efforts we are making against racism and discrimination. And on the field of play sometimes you say something that is not very correct, but then at the end of the game, the game is over and you have the next game where you can behave better.”

Blatter apes the views of more than one prominent pundit, with racist language justified on the basis of ‘banter’ or ‘high emotions’. It says much for the neanderthal element still present in our game. Indeed, the Daily Mail ran a bigoted ‘opinion’ editorial urging black players to “just ignore it” when subjected to racism and be “thankful” for the apparent progress made.

True, gone are the universal ‘monkey chanting’ and banana throwing of 1980s crowds. Racism has gone underground. Yet, surely, race should not be a matter for partisan support. Offence, if the accusations against Suarez and Terry are true, should be universal. That it is not says something for the road football has travelled, but more for the distance yet to go.

There is also a devastating charge of complacency to be levelled against the football community and, perhaps, the Football Association too. Certainly, the governing body’s dithering over both cases does not reflect well on the FA. That a number of prominent black players genuinely considered boycotting the Kick It Out campaign because of the perceived FA governance of the body (it is part financed but not governed by the FA) says much for the frustration felt within the game.

After all, racism is institutionalised in football, with so few administrators and coaches coming from the ethnic minorities, despite black players making up around 25 per cent of professionals in England. Fans of all colours should be ashamed of this.

Perhaps failure to eliminate racism in England is the result of a top top-down culture that embraces discrimination at its very core? After all women and homosexuals also face an institutionalised glass ceiling, and administrators not willing to work hard enough to eliminate discrimination. It is an industry that celebrates the macho and aggressive, and one wonders whether the football community – fans, players, administrators – will ever accept a player for what he is, and not his sexual orientation, background or race. Recent events have brought this into question.

More than 30 years since Justin Fashanu – the first gay professional to come out – was driven to his suicide football has seemingly achieved little. There is little serious attempt to do so from within the game, save for an FA sponsored video last year. That the governing body was unable to attract leading footballers to take part in the video paints just as vivid a picture. Gordon Taylor, president of the Professional Footballers Association, admitted last year that tackling homophobia is simply “not very high on the agenda,” while homophobic language is endemic throughout the football community.

The community’s reaction to the latest turn of events suggests that there is some way to go when it comes to racial equality too. While a presumption of innocence is enshrined in our legal system, there is little reason to believe that Evra is lying – the FA charge suggests the body believes his account too – or that Ferdinand uncertain about what he did (or apparently did not) say to Terry.

The FA is likely to set a very high bar for proof, keen as the body is to avoid all controversy. It takes genuine strength of will an authority to sit in judgement; something the governing body has long since lost. But now, more than ever, is the time for the body to truly govern our game.

Cretin Blatter talks sense on debt

Ed April 2, 2010 Tags: , Opinion 2 comments

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has hit out at debt ridden Premier League clubs, accusing chairmen of stockpiling players and spending money they don’t have. The FIFA supremo warned of financial over-commitment in England, although the scandal-hit FIFA President struggles to talk with credibility on the matter.

Blatter, never reticent in being critical of the English game, told CNN International that rich benefactors such as Roman Abramovich at Chelsea and Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City are the reason not all English clubs are in debt.

“I think something is wrong here with the Premier League, to let a club go into administration, this is not good.” said the 74-year-old FIFA president.

“They have two clubs in the Premier League who are not in debt. Why? Because they have two sponsors and they have taken away the debt. These clubs are Chelsea and Manchester City.

“All the others, even the big Manchester [United], the big Manchester I think they are just able to pay the interest of their debt but there are clubs that are not even able to pay the interest of their debt. This is not correct, this is not good.

“And these clubs, why are they in debt? Because they pay too high salaries to their players, they spend more money than they have.”

It’s a fair point, although Blatter has little credibility on the matter as President of an organisation that lost $100 million after the collapse of marketing partner ISL prior to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea.

The FIFA president allegedly tried to cover-up the scandal by dismissing former protegé Michel Zen-Ruffinen prior to the tournament. Zen-Ruffinen had led a task-force looking into financial mismanagement within the organisation.

In 1998 Blatter attempted to bribe delegates during the FIFA Presidential election, according to Farra Ado, vice-president of the CAF and president of the Somalian football association, although the charge was not conclusively proven.

FIFA has also consistently failed to impose financial regulation on clubs, while stockpiling huge profits from its competitions such as the World Cup, Club World Cup and Gold Cup. Yet Blatter claims this is not an area in which the organisation can help.

“This is not a question where FIFA can intervene because it is economy, it is the responsibility of the national association members in FIFA to make sure their clubs are in good order,” added the FIFA chief.

“In France it is a governmental decree that they have there. In Germany 51% ownership of the club must be German, in Spain most of the clubs belong to the fans.”

“I think salary caps will not be accepted by any economic system especially not in the European Union but salary caps will automatically come in if you can agree to this principle that you cannot spend more money than your income. This would balance it definitely”

Where FIFA refuses to act UEFA has been less reticent. The organisation, spearheaded by Michel Platini, plans to bring in strict financial management rules for European Competitions, although these were recently pushed back by the powerful European Club Association.

The rules, which will see clubs who do not run a balanced financial ship barred from the Champions and Europa leagues, will come in by 2015.

Until then Blatter will continue to bark with very little bite.