Robin Scott-Elliot: Sepp Blatter - Biggest beast of all marks out extended territory

Blatter dominates events amid hints he will stand again in 2015

To get to Fifa Haus you take the No 6 tram to Zurich zoo. Fifa lives next door, neat gardens and curious works of art – such as the Sepp Blatter water trough, reduced to a trickle yesterday – surrounding the squat, bunker-esque building that huddles beneath the brow of one of the hills rising out of the city. Yesterday it housed Blatter and the other elderly big beasts who govern the global game.

By lunchtime a throng of cameramen and reporters were clustered around the entrance – there were 25 cameras in all collected from the world’s media, although the British as usual provided the largest contingent – who had come to learn, well, not much really it turned out.

Next door to the bunker Fifa staff played football on a pristine pitch. It was cold and damp, a world removed from the issue being discussed by the executive committee inside. The characteristic Swiss neatness of it all provided a misleading cover for the mess that the Ex-Co were attempting to clear up, a dog’s dinner of their own making (although it should be remembered Blatter did not himself vote for Qatar). It is estimated that seven of the 14 who voted for the Gulf state were sitting around the table yesterday.

It was a secret ballot three years ago and few of the 14, with the notable exception of Michel Platini, have since come out. After the two-day meeting ended at lunchtime yesterday – “We were very disciplined,” said Blatter – the members departed giving off a faint air of bemusement over what they had agreed. They had spent some time discussing the British press and their “obsession” with the workings of Fifa. But as for what had been decided… had they set up a taskforce? A committee? A flotilla?

As they departed scratching their heads it left the cage clear for the biggest beast of them all. This is Blatter’s kingdom, one which he has ruled for the last 15 years. And one that at the age of 77 he has no intention of letting go. There is a political edge to all this. His latest term as president is up in 2015 and he has previously said this would be his last. But then along came Platini and now Blatter is giving every indication that he will run again.

Yesterday he was in sparkling mood, a state that may well have been down to three “ladies” taking a seat at an Ex-Co meeting for the first time. He said it had brought “sunshine” to the Ex-Co. However, his words will not have spread much sunshine among foreign construction workers currently undertaking the immense infrastructure and stadium build in the Gulf state at sometimes dire cost.

He began his press conference with a simple statement and a shrug. “The Fifa World Cup 2022 will be played in Qatar. Voila.” There at a stroke went any attempt to make a stand against the conditions, to use the World Cup for the force of good he believes it can be. And after that it was all hot air about a hot summer, but that is for another day and probably another one after that, just so long as they can watch next year’s World Cup with, as Blatter put it, a “clear conscience”.

Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Sport
football
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk