Zurich: Sepp Blatter goes into one of the toughest days of his 40 years at football’s governing body revered by some as the beautiful game’s ‘Jesus’ and scorned by others as a rogue clinging to power. The 79-year-old, favourite to win a fifth term as president of Fifa in a vote on Friday, has divided the world’s most popular sport as it again struggles to cast off the shadow of scandal. The Swiss official believes however that his jealous rivals no longer apply the notion of fair play in their backroom battles with him.
“In my 40 years at Fifa I have learned to live with hostility and resentment,” he said recently.“However as the German language proverb puts it: sympathy is free, but envy must be earned.” is a lot to envy.Being head of Fifa for 17 years has elevated Blatter to 70th place in the Forbes list of the world’s most powerful people — the only sports leader in the group jostling behind the likes of Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama.
The former amateur footballer an old fashioned striker joined Fifa in 1975 from a post marketing Swiss watches. He became secretary general in 1981 and was elected to the top job in 1998 after the man he had served faithfully Brazilian Joao Havelange, no stranger to controversy himself, finally ended his 24 year reign.
Blatter, who also worked as a public relations official for a Swiss tourism department, claims credit for building up much of Fifa’s financial muscle.
When he joined Fifa it was in a small Zurich building with about 10 staff. Football’s world body now has 1,400 staff and is sitting on a cash mountain of about $1.5 billion — about enough to pay the bills if a World Cup had to be called off.