Sepp Blatter dreams of a Nobel prize as Fifa bows to his ego
The Swiss is likely to win a fifth term at Fifa next year, but his mission is one of self-interest
England may have got one over on the Swiss football team last night, but down the road at Fifa HQ, a Swiss is set to get one over on the rest of the world. Confirmation that Sepp Blatter will stand for a fifth term as president of the sport's governing body has been greeted with gasps of horror by some.
And his justification for standing yet again – "my mission is not finished" – leaves Oliver Kay of The Times dumfounded.
"When Blatter claims that his mission is one of reform, he convinces no one beyond the court of sycophants who prop up his regime," rages Kay. "His priorities these days seem to be self-interest, self-preservation and self-aggrandisement. His one remaining ambition is to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Seriously, it is. This is no laughing matter."
The idea that Blatter hopes for Nobel recognition has been fuelled by recent grandiose statements and his claim that football could help "bring a solution" to the problems between Israel and Palestine.
But his dream of joining Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa in the Nobel pantheon is surely "preposterous" says Henry Winter in the Daily Telegraph. "It would be like Del Boy being voted onto the board of Harvard Business School."
Blatter has a "boundless" ego, says Winter, and he should concentrate on things other than attaining a "secular sainthood". He may not be on the take, but "his crime is more one against the soul of the game, of a culture of corruption spreading through parts of Fifa on his watch, of his lazy approach to combating intolerance, of the five-star bubble that he and his executives inhabit and the Fifa motorcades adding to the Rio traffic".
Confirmation of his wish to stand again next year, despite his promise in 2011 that his fourth term would be his last, came in a pre-recorded interview at the Soccerex conference in Manchester.
He also produced another political masterstroke by announcing trials of video technology. "Strangely, this video technology was pushed by Greg Dyke, the Football Association chairman, at the last IFAB meeting when Blatter was dismissive of the proposal," notes Winter.
His sudden support for video technology comes as no surprise to Sam Borden of the New York Times. He describes the 78-year-old Blatter as a "mutant immortal butterfly, a creature that spends years in a cocoon, oblivious to the world around him before emerging on a quadrennial basis to flap his wings, put on a short show of creativity and ambition and then, ultimately, collapse back into his self-important slumber".