Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president who is not new to controversy has publicly admitted in a poster that Zurich in Switzerland, is boring while Africa has rhythm, life ,dance, music and ability to dream. His statement has ruffled some feathers in Zurich.
A Swiss citizen reporter for Switzerland paper, 20 Minuten,saw the poster while touring the new world cup stadium in Cape town, South Africa.
The city of Zurich and FIFA have a cordial relationship dating back to 1932. The state president of Zurich, Corine Mauch ,said a while ago, “Blatter and FIFA carry the name of Zurich worldwide and they make priceless advertisement for the city.” Many in Zurich now wonder why Sepp Blatter made an apparent faux pas in his statement.
Sepp Blatter has been fascinated about Africa ever since he worked as development aid director for FIFA in Addis Abeba,Ethiopia in 1976.
The world cup in South Africa is arguably Sepp Blatter’s hour. He has a score to settle. He wants to prove critics of Africa wrong.
During the confederation cup in South Africa, many Europeans complained that vuvuzela was irritating. The FIFA president defended the vuvuzela based on cultural relativism when he said, “that is what African and South Africa football is all about noise, excitement, dancing, shouting and enjoyment “
The U-17 FIFA 2009 tournament in Nigeria was mired by allegations of age cheating. Age cheating is a reoccurring phenomenon in FIFA age grade events. A certain Fortune Chukwudi,who was the captain of the Nigerian team was accused by Adokiye Amesimaka of age cheating.
At a press conference in Nigeria, Sepp Blatter questioned the timing of the allegation. He added “The tournament will do well without many people making Africa or Nigeria look bad because of rumors over age cheat. Why only Nigeria and not the other countries?”
The Africa nations cup that took place in Angola this year began on a sad note after the shooting of Togolese players and officials in Cabinda. As usual, it was the best platform for critics of FIFA to raise doubts about the world cup in South Africa.
Uli Hoeness, the powerful president of Bayern Munich, said awarding the tournament to South Africa was“the biggest wrong decision” by Fifa. Blatter did not mince words when he replied, “It’s an anti-Africa prejudice. There is still in the so-called ‘old world’ a feeling that why the hell should Africa organize a World Cup.”
He went on,”I think it’s a nonsense to combine what has happened in Angola, a terrorist attack for political reasons, and mix it up with the World Cup in South Africa. He had the chutzpah to call European critics colonialist who treat Africa with no respect
Sepp Blatter is the most pro Africa FIFA president of all times. He danced at the presentation of the official FIFA ball for the world cup named “Jabulani”( a Zulu word for celebrate),in Cape town last December.
Africans regard him as an ally. He continues to stick his neck out for Africa despite the anti-European label from the west. Blatter has been honored in many African countries. He holds the highest South African medal of honor, the “Order of Good Hope”. Liberia under Charles Taylor,awarded Blatter, Liberia’s highest honor, the “Humane Order of African Redemption “
Zurich, with a population of almost 350,000 is clearly a small city in comparison to FIFA’s clout world wide. May be Blatter, who is from Wallis, feels Zurich has become provincial for his liking because of his international exposure.
Zurich also known as Limmatstadt is not completely boring. It has churches, museums and lots more.
In the fiscal year 2009, FIFA earned 1,059 billion dollars as revenue. They spent 863 million dollars as expenditure. Thereby making 210 million Swiss Francs as annual net income. FIFA has a special privilege in Zurich because they pay little or no tax. Zurich needs FIFA just like FIFA needs Zurich.
Given the ripples from Blatter’s comment in Switzerland, FIFA issued a statement after inquiry from 20 minuten online, that “the FIFA president is happy to be in Zurich.”
The outcome of the South Africa world cup will determine the future of Blatter as FIFA president. Blatter is interested to vie for a fourth term as FIFA president. Already UEFA president Michel Platini and Asian football functionary Mohammed Bin Hammam from Qatar are waiting in the wings
Blatter has made the hosting of the world cup possible on African soil. Are the African teams ready to showcase the beauty of African football ?
If African teams want to make meaningful impact in South Africa, they will have to do more than “Wavin’ Flag” like K’naan.
Blatter’s pitch ever since he was labeled euro sceptic is simple: he is working for the ‘entire football family.’ It is a philosophy based on a sense of altruism.
When the “jabulani” takes center stage in South Africa and electrify the world, it wont be boring in Zurich or Africa. Rather, it would be a celebration of the beautiful game that unite us all.
Credits-Pictures courtesy of 20 Minuten