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Fifa corruption: Blatter should win a Nobel prize, says Putin

28 July

Most people would agree that Sepp Blatter's hopes of winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his work at Fifa are hanging by a thread in the wake of the corruption scandals that have engulfed the organisation this year.

However, the 79-year-old Swiss, who will step down from his post in February as both the FBI and Swiss authorities probe his organisation, has a supporter in the form of Vladimir Putin.

Russia's president lavished praise on Blatter in a TV interview after the draw for the 2018 World Cup last weekend.

No matter that the decision to award the tournament to Russia is at the centre of one of corruption probes, Putin is adamant that there was nothing untoward with the choice and insisted that Blatter's hands were clean.

"I don't want to go into details but I don't believe a word about him being involved in corruption personally," said Putin in the interview with Swiss broadcaster RTS, reports the BBC. "I think people like Mr Blatter or the heads of big international sporting federations, or the Olympic Games, deserve special recognition. If there is anyone who deserves the Nobel prize, it's those people."

Putin also appeared to suggest that a US investigation that has resulted in nine Fifa officials past and present being indicted on corruption charges and relentless British criticism of Fifa were connected to failed World Cup bids.

"The way there is this fight against corruption makes me wonder if it isn't a continuation of the bids for 2018 and 2022," mused Russia's leader.

Despite Putin's warm words, Blatter's well-documented hopes of winning a Nobel prize seem doomed after the organisation cut its ties with Fifa in the wake of the scandals.

"Blatter, 79, has said he has a 'clear conscience', and is planning to remain in office until Fifa holds an extraordinary congress to elect his successor next February," repiorts the BBC, which also claims that Michel Platini will announce his decision to stand as his successor later this week.

The former France midfielder, who is currently president of Uefa, already has the backing of four continental confederations and is the "overwhelming favourite" to replace Blatter.

 

Fifa corruption: Lee Nelson faces Blatter trespass charge

22 July

Blatter

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AFP/Getty Images

The comic who chucked some cash the way of Sepp Blatter on Monday is to be charged with trespass by the Swiss authorities, for who the Fifa headquarters are becoming a regular haunt.

British comedian Simon Brodkin – better known by his stage names of Lee Nelson and Jason Bent – showered the Fifa president with fake money at a chaotic press conference on Monday. Telling the discredited Blatter that the money was on behalf of "North Korea". Nelson was hauled away by security guards while the world's press gleefully photographed the started Swiss supremo with bank notes fluttering around his head.  

The BBC reports that the 38-year London comedian, well-known for his wacky stunts over the years, was arrested by police in Zurich after the incident but released after questioning.

However, on Tuesday evening a police spokesman announced: "He will be charged for trespassing because he wasn't allowed to enter the building. If there will be a trial it is still to be decided by the prosecutor. Trespassing in Switzerland is just prosecuted by request like other minor crimes," added the police spokesperson, making it clear that Fifa were behind the charges.

Shortly after the stunt, Brodkin tweeted a photo the incident from the account @Jason9Bent, accompanied by the message: "Excited to be at Fifa meeting Sepp Blatter to secure the #NorthKorea2026 World Cup."

And it doesn't appear that his impending court appearance has dampened his enthusiasm for at the same time the Swiss authorities made their announcement, Nelson tweeted a photoshopped picture of himself handing North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un a wad of cash with the message: "Proof @Jason9Bent is the official ambassador for the #NorthKorea2026 World Cup bid".

Fifa: comic Lee Nelson showers Sepp Blatter with bank notes

20 July

Fifa president Sepp Blatter was showered with fake bank notes by a comedian as he made his first appearance at a press conference since announcing he would step down as president of the scandal-hit organisation.

He was preparing to address the media when comedian Simon Brodkin appeared at the front of the stage and placed a pile of notes on the desk in front of the 79-year-old Swiss, who could repeatedly be heard calling for security. It took several seconds for them to arrive and as Brodkin was ushered away he threw another wad of notes over Blatter.

The 79-year-old Swiss appeared rattled by the incident and delayed the media briefing in order to "clean" the notes from the stage. "This has nothing to do with football. I will be back in a few moments," he said after the stunt.

Brodkin, who is also known by the name of his character Lee Nelson, is a serial prankster. He invaded the stage during Kanye West's performance at Glastonbury last month and gatecrashed an England football team photoshoot before the last World Cup. However his latest stunt may be his most high-profile yet and has provided Blatter's critics with an iconic image of the Fifa president looking furious as dollar bills flutter around him.

The press conference had originally been called to announce details of the election to replace Blatter, which will not now take place until 26 February.

"It had originally been suggested that Fifa would hold the election in December, but that would clash with the Club World Cup, taking place in Japan. With Fifa's Ballon d'Or award ceremony scheduled for January, the election has been shunted into February," reports The Times.

But by setting a firm date Fifa has "fired the starting gun on the race to succeed Sepp Blatter as president of the scandal hit organisation", says Owen Gibson of The Guardian.

Candidates must enter the race by 26 October under Fifa rules. Platini, the former France midfielder and president of Uefa, has established himself as favourite for the role after talks with senior figures at the Asian Football Confederation over the weekend.

He now has the backing of four of the six federations, says the paper, but "is understood to be still weighing up whether to stand and will take further soundings at the World Cup draw in St Petersburg this weekend".

There have been more calls for reform at the organisation. "Meanwhile, campaign groups including Transparency International are calling for an independent reform process led by an external figure such as Kofi Annan to restore credibility in the wake of the corruption scandal that has gripped world football’s governing body. Coca-Cola last week became the first major sponsor to call for a wide-ranging overhaul," reports Gibson.

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