'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.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
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

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little