'Fifa is not the Sheriff of Nottingham. We are more like Robin Hood': The most powerful man in world football, Sepp Blatter, addresses the Oxford Union - News & Comment - Football - The Independent

'Fifa is not the Sheriff of Nottingham. We are more like Robin Hood': The most powerful man in world football, Sepp Blatter, addresses the Oxford Union

Mr Blatter has been subjected to fierce criticism by the British media and he used his lecture to quash the 'falsehood' that Fifa have something against the UK and its people

In an extraordinary outpouring of self-pity, Sepp Blatter, the most powerful man in world football, claimed that he had been portrayed as a “Bond villain” when Robin Hood would be a more appropriate comparison.

Pouring his heart out to an audience of undergraduates, the 77-year-old President of Fifa talked of his troubled birth and first days as “a helpless baby struggling for life” before launching into a pained analysis of his public image.

“Perhaps you think I am a ruthless parasite sucking the lifeblood out of the world and out of football! The Godfather of the Fifa gravy train! An out-of-touch, heartless schmoozer!” he moaned to the Oxford Union.

“There are not many names that the media haven't thrown at me in the last few years. And I would be lying to you if it did not hurt, even if you know that it goes with the territory. You would have to have a heart of stone for it not to hurt. You ask yourself, what have I done?”

For the past 15 years Blatter has presided over world football's governing body, a period when it has repeatedly been the subject of corruption scandals and claims of cronyism. The President has attracted controversy for saying that women footballers should wear tighter shorts and low cut tops, that racism in football doesn't exist, and that gay fans should not have sex while at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

But he told students: “I am a football progressive.” Staging a World Cup in South Africa had "changed people's perceptions and people's prejudices”. Money from World Cups helped to fund the women's game.

“There are those who will tell you that Fifa is just a conspiracy, a scam, accountable to nobody and too powerful for anyone to resist. There are those who will tell you of the supposed sordid secrets that lie deep in our Bond villain headquarters in the hills above Zurich, where we apparently plot to exploit the unfortunate and the weak.

"They would have you believe that I sit in my office with a sinister grin, gently stroking the chin of an expensive, white Persian cat as my terrible sidekicks scour the earth to force countries to host the World Cup and to hand over all of their money,“ he said.

"You might have been led to believe Fifa is the evil Sheriff of Nottingham of football. But the truth is we have more in common with Robin Hood."

Throughout his presidency, Blatter has been subjected to fierce criticism by the British media and he used his lecture to quash the "falsehood“ that ”we at Fifa have something against the United Kingdom and its people“.

He sprinkled his speech with British cultural references as he tried to win new friends. ”My love for the United Kingdom and its culture and heritage is rock solid,“ he said, before making references to the Houses of Parliament, Wembley Lord's and Wordsworth.

He implored the students to acknowledge a lifetime's struggle against adversity since he was born so prematurely that his grandmother told his mother ”to not try to save me because it was not worth the trouble".

The football chief has, in his own words, gone on to become "a servant" of the beautiful game, "breaking down barriers and bringing people together through football".

That, he told the Oxford Union, "is what FIFA and Sepp Blatter have always been about. For the game, for the world!“

Blatter is to be the subject of a feature film linked to the 2014 World Cup in which he will be played by Tim Roth. Although never a Bond villain, the British actor came to fame playing the part of Mr Orange in the gangster film Reservoir Dogs.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week