On This Day, 1 March 2002 — Disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, received the first volley of mud that would ultimately stain not only his character but also his reputation.
It was reported that the Swiss bureaucrat was elevated to his grand position on a platform of bribery.
Farah Addo, then the vice president of the African Football Confederation, was most vocal, claiming to have been offered $100,000 to help sway votes in Blatter’s favour.
Blatter’s tactic was to utilise a barrage of misdirection, obfuscation and a fair amount of theatricality, in short all of the strategies that he would continue to deploy throughout his lengthy tenure.
The best example of Blatter’s knack for diverting his critic’s attention came, when referencing the bribery scandal, when he said “It is part of a destabilisation and defamation campaign against my person that has been ongoing for some time.”
With the advantage of hindsight, it is easy to see how much damage was allowed to be gradually inflicted upon the game thanks to the sport’s upper-echelons continued reluctance to reform their organisation.
Blatter would continue, unfazed by the numerous derogatory remarks made about him, and would drag the sport further and further into a morality deprived mire.
The lasting damage of his reign is still being felt with the dual farce of the prospect of staging the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar.
You get the impression that faith can only be once again restored in the game’s governing body if the organization is stripped to its core and rebuilt in an entirely transparent manner.