'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.

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'