I’m going to miss Sepp Blatter. I’m not going to miss the soon-to-be-former president of FIFA for any personal affinity I have for the man, rather, I’m going to miss the precious comedy that he has given us over the years.
Blatter and Controversy Were Two Peas in a Pod
The 17-year reign of Joseph S. Blatter as FIFA president has been marked by dismissals of racism and homophobia, a comical lack of transparency, a resistance to technological change, sexism, fraud allegations, shady backroom dealings, financial gymnastics, tone deafness and an unrivaled success for the World’s Game.
It’s reasonable to assume that between the time the United States Justice Department announced indictments against 14 international soccer leaders and business-people last Wednesday, the presidential election on Friday and his resignation announcement on Tuesday, Blatter has learned that the block has got too hot and the hammer is now coming for him.
As ESPN’s Bob Ley noted with ABC News’ Josh Margolin, Blatter is the ultimate target of the federal investigation that was launched week, which has all the hallmarks of a good organized-crime sting. And like those launched in the past, it sure seems like someone, possibly Jack Warner, is ready to snitch on Blatter.
You can rejoice in this news if you want to. In fact, that’s the reasonable thing to feel. The potential removal of Blatter is hopefully the beginning of the end of a FIFA that has been riddled with corruption.
I’m just saddened that it means we’re no longer going to get ridiculous Sepp Blatter quotes. Making fun of the crazy things that came out of Blatter’s mouth was something that could unite the world.
"I am the president of everybody."
But before he goes, Blatter did give us Friday, May 29, 2015. And what a day it was.
Despite everything that had just gone down two days prior, Blatter had secured presidential re-election and had the audacity to stand stall in front of the delegates at the 65th FIFA Congress and tell them, and effectively the world, "I am the president of everybody."
That was special.
Then he announces that he’s quitting?!?!?
Before we delve into anything else that is Joseph S. Blatter, can we please again acknowledge the greatness of his "I am the president of everybody" quote?
Freshly re-elected, Blatter took to the podium to let you know that he was fallible, but he was ready to continue leading.
"I like you, I like my job. I am not perfect. Nobody is perfect, but we will do a good job together I am sure. So I thank you so much, I thank you for the trust and confidence. Trust and confidence, together we go. Let's go FIFA!"
It had been quite a week for FIFA’s embattled president, and he was ready to drop some gems that wouldn’t always make sense.
"We will bring this boat back; we will bring it back to shore. We have some organizational problems."
That was just precious. Our man invoked images of things being "off-shore" like those aren’t the exact type of tax shelters that are at the center of the corruption scandal.
There have been reports that the usually affable Blatter seemed a little more subdued in the lead-up to the election. It's safe to say that the news engulfing the organization had plenty to do with that. However, with victory secured, Blatter returned to the stage to drop his coup de grâce of the week.
"It is my congress, I have the right to make the closing remarks. This is a very important congress. You see I am in a good mood. I was a little bit nervous today, but now I am the president of everybody, I am the president of the whole Fifa.
This game is important, but more important, enjoy life!"
There’s no shortage of evidence that Blatter always had a way with words. Heck, his ability to say some outright absurd things was pretty unmatched in the world of sports. Blatter’s performance at the 65th FIFA Congress may turn out to be his final curtain call, but there were numerous occasions that shouldn’t be forgotten. His ability to give quotes that run the gamut of hilarity and tastelessness is almost inspiring.
Thanks to the BBC, let’s browse some of his "greatest" hits:
Need something sexist? Our man from Visp, Valais, Switzerland has us covered.
"Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts.
"Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men - such as playing with a lighter ball.
"That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?"
Blatter's suggestion for increasing the popularity of women's soccer, January 2004
You need some racism with your soccer? Please believe, that Blatter is the man you need.
"I could understand it if it had happened in Africa, but not in Italy."
Blatter, speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport in March 2006 as a match-fixing scandal came to light in Italy's top two divisions.
Are you a member of a marginalized group looking to escape persecution on your homeland? There's only on man to call, baby.
"I'd say they should refrain from any sexual activities."
Blatter, asked in December 2010 if he foresaw any problems for gay fans traveling to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
While we here in the U.S. thought that the election of President Barack Obama had cured racism, Sepp has a fail-free solution.
"There is no racism [on the field], but maybe there is a word or gesture that is not correct.
"The one affected by this should say 'this is a game' and shake hands."
Blatter, speaking to CNN in November 2011, after the English Football Association charged Luis Suarez with racially abusing Patrice Evra during a Premier League game between Liverpool and Manchester United. The FIFA president later said his comments had been misunderstood.
Man, here’s some more ridiculous sexism.
"Say something, ladies. You are always speaking at home, now you can speak here."
Blatter addresses the FIFA Congress in Mauritius as the first woman is appointed to its executive committee in May 2013.
You want creepy and patriarchal, we got creepy and patriarchal.
"Women's football is definitely my […] baby. I consider myself a little bit, as the godfather of women's football in FIFA."
Blatter in a BBC interview in May 2015.
Image Lefty Shivambu/Getty
How could a man with this impressive a history of confounding entertainment possibly top himself? On Friday, he just might have.
And then on Tuesday, he announced his intention to resign. Although we’ll still have a few months left with the irrepressible Blatter, let’s try to remember the good times. Well, at least the times he said a bunch of entertaining stuff.