Inside Lines: Embarrassed IOC will keep close eye on slippery Sepp Blatter


The International Olympic Committee, terrified of being drawn into the current Fifa imbroglio after their own Games-changing votes-for-bungs corruption scandal over Salt Lake City in 2002, are keeping an anxious eye on the machinations surrounding the international football body's president Sepp Blatter.

The IOC are said to be viewing the crisis over Qatar with 'serious concern' as Blatter is also a leading figure in the Olympic movement. They are particularly embarrassed over his allegations that racism is behind criticism of the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Several of those alleged to have received money have strong links with the Olympic movement, notably Issa Hayatou, the Cameroonian who is both a Fifa vice-president and IOC member. He denies any wrongdoing.

Interestingly Blatter, who says he intends to stand for re-election as world football boss next year, when he will be 79, is also behind a move to scrap the age limit of 80 for IOC membership, calling the current ruling (introduced after Salt Lake) "an act of discrimination".

I first met him back in the early Eighties in a Singapore hotel room when he was 'leg-man' to then Fifa president Joao Havelange as general secretary. Actually the wily Swiss septuagenarian has always been a bit of a leg-man – famously a past president of the Society for the Preservation of the Suspender!

During my interview with Havelange (later forced to resign from the IOC following accusations of receiving $1 million in 'commission' for broadcasting rights) we were constantly interrupted by waiters and couriers bearing gifts from local manufacturers, sponsors and businesses; boxes of shirts, crates of drinks, hi-fi equipment and toiletries were stacked high against the walls, from floor to ceiling. "I think we'll need to hire another plane to get all these home," Blatter smirked knowingly at Havelange.

Just over a decade later we met again in his opulent Zurich emporium after he became Fifa president. I had accompanied the British sports minister Tony Banks who was there to discuss a potential England World Cup bid. For an hour or so Blatter provided a master-class in glib evasion and self-aggrandisement. "Slippery sod, ain't he." sniffed Banks as we left. Plus ça change.

Putin puts Sambo in Games

Further evidence of Vladimir Putin's growing influence in sporting matters comes with the inclusion of Sambo in next year's European Games in Baku. A word in the ear of the Azerbaijani president Ilham Akiyev from Vlad, Russia's former Sambo champion, has seen it added to the programme.

The acronym of the judo-styled martial art first developed by the Red Army translates as "self-defence without weapons". Popular in Ukraine too, apparently.

Groves eyes world title

A fortnight after being poleaxed by Carl Froch's Wembley wonder punch, George Groves is still rubbing his chin, but in thoughtful contemplation rather than pained contrition. "No regrets," he assures us. "I'm already back in the gym. Onwards and upwards."

Many good fighters have climbed off the floor to become world champions, from Joe Louis through to Wladimir Klitschko via Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis, David Haye and Amir Khan. Groves doesn't doubt he'll be among them. "Sure, it was heartbreaking but in boxing one mistake, one punch, can change everything. This doesn't seem like a setback to me. I didn't get the result but in some ways it paid off." It certainly did financially as he now sits on a £2 million cushion. "I'm only 26 and I know I'll still be a world champion."

Groves says he will box again in September either in London or Germany and my hunch is that by the end of the year we may see him matched in another score-settling clash with old rival James DeGale at London's O2 for the IBF title which Froch seems inclined to vacate in his quest for a valedictory fight against Julio Cesar Chavez.

A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor