SBD/June 10, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Sepp Blatter Says Critics Want To "Destroy" FIFA Because It Is "Too Strong"

Blatter said there is a great deal of discrimination and racism relating to Qatar
FIFA President Sepp Blatter yesterday "blasted critics trying to 'destroy'" FIFA, as he "launched a staunch defence of his scandal-tainted organisation," according to the AFP. Blatter, speaking to the Asian Football Confederation gathered in Sao Paulo ahead of FIFA's 64th Congress, branded his critics "destroyers." He said, "They want to destroy, not the game, but they want to destroy the institution, because our institution is too strong." Blatter said FIFA was "so strong we are sure they'll not destroy it." Blatter's "rallying cry comes as FIFA faces mounting pressure" over its '10 decision to award the '22 World Cup to Qatar. FIFA investigator Michael Garcia yesterday "was to finish his inquiry" into the '22 vote and the '18 bid contest, won by Russia. However, his report "will not be handed over to the FIFA adjudicatory chamber until mid-July, when the World Cup final is held." Blatter yesterday said that he "expected FIFA's ethics to decide what, if any, action to take over Garcia's report in three to four months time" (AFP, 6/10). Meanwhile, REUTERS noted the African congress "passed a resolution condemning what it called the British media's racist attack on its officials." Blatter said, "Once again there is a sort of storm against FIFA relating to the Qatar World Cup. Sadly, there's a great deal of discrimination and racism and this hurts me" (REUTERS, 6/10).

OLIVER'S TWIST: Sunday's edition of HBO's "Last Week Tonight" featured host John Oliver taking shots at FIFA regarding the organization reportedly accepted bribes in return for awarding Qatar the '22 World Cup. Oliver called FIFA a "comically grotesque organization" and noted Brazilians are unhappy and protesting over the country's expenditures for building infrastructure needed to host the World Cup. Oliver used an analogy to explain how the host country spends billions for the event but FIFA earns all the revenues, "Brazil, let me put this in terms you might understand. Think of money as pubic hair and FIFA as wax. They're going to be all over you during the World Cup but when they go they're taking all the money with them, including some from places you didn't even know you had any money." Oliver also noted FIFA pressured Brazil into changing their laws to allow beer sales in World Cup stadiums because Budweiser is a "key sponsor" for FIFA. Oliver noted, "FIFA seemed anxious to protect Budweiser from a law designed to protect people. ... The amazing thing here: FIFA won. They successfully pressured Brazil into passing a so-called 'Budweiser bill' allowing beer sales in soccer stadiums. At this point you can either be horrified by that or relieved that FIFA wasn't also sponsored by cocaine and chainsaws." Oliver challenged the fact that FIFA is a "humble, non-profit organization" with $1B in bank assets, which Blatter called a "reserve." Oliver: "A reserve of a billion dollars? When your rainy day fund is so big you've got to check it for swimming cartoon ducks, you might not be a not-profit anymore." He closed with, "By this point, I hope I've proven to you that FIFA is just appalling, and yet here's their power: I am still so excited about the World Cup" ("Last Week Tonight," HBO, 6/8).

THE PLOT THICKENS
: Former IOC Marketing Dir Michael Payne in a special to the FINANCIAL TIMES notes the "decision by a number of leading World Cup sponsors -- Sony, Adidas, Visa, Coca-Cola and Hyundai-Kia -- to express concern publicly about allegations surrounding the election of Qatar as host of the event in 2022 has added a new dimension to the developing crisis" facing FIFA. In the final days leading up to the World Cup, sponsors "would expect to be maximising the return on their investment by fine-tuning promotional and hospitality programmes, not moving into crisis communications mode and being forced to defend their partnerships." Neither FIFA nor its corporate partners "can afford a continued slow release of revelations." The "doomsday scenario for the companies is that the situation is allowed to drag on, turning one of the most powerful sports partnerships toxic" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/10).
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