When Sepp Blatter speaks, controversy follows

2013-10-30 17:56

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Global football governing body Fifa president Sepp Blatter has put his foot in it – again. This time the 77-year-old Swiss angered Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo when he compared the Portuguese national to Barcelona’s World Player of the Year Lionel Messi.

Blatter was asked for his opinion on the pair at the Oxford University Union in England on Friday.

While Blatter said they were both exceptional athletes, he added that Ronaldo resembled “a commander on the field of play”.

He then rose from his chair and strutted on to the stage in military fashion in an apparent imitation of Ronaldo.

“One has more expenses for the hairdresser than the other but that doesn’t matter,” he said, referring to Ronaldo. “I cannot say who is the best, there will again be a contest this year – I like both of them but I prefer Messi.”

In response, Ronaldo posted a link to a video of Blatter’s comments, followed by a sarcastic post on his Facebook page yesterday.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sRa9tmU9Yk

“This video shows clearly the respect and consideration that Fifa has for me, for my club and my country,” Ronaldo wrote.

“Much is explained now. I wish Mr Blatter health and a long life, with the certainty that he will continue to witness, as he deserves, the successes of his favourite teams and players.”

Blatter apologised soon after.

“I want to make clear that for me Cristiano Ronaldo is at the same level as Messi and that the two are exceptional players, each in their own way,” Blatter wrote in reply to Real Madrid president Florentino Perez’s demand for an explanation.

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Picture: Albert Gea/Reuters

“I regret very much that this situation arising from a university event is causing so much pain and I apologise for that. It was never my intention to annoy or show a lack of respect to Real Madrid, or one of their players or their fans.”

Blatter is no stranger to controversy. In his four terms as Fifa president, he has had to douse more than his fair share of fires.

Some of the controversies:

» In 2004, Blatter outraged female footballers after he suggested that they wear tighter shorts to increase the popularity of the game.

“Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball,” he was quoted as saying by the BBC.

“They could, for example, have tighter shorts.”

He added: “Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men – such as playing with a lighter ball.

“That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?”

Fifa President Sepp Blatter. Picture: Leon Neal, Pool/AP

» When John Terry was axed as England captain following allegations that he had had an affair with his team-mate Wayne Bridge’s ex-partner, Blatter said Terry would have been applauded in other countries. “Listen, this is a special approach in the Anglo-Saxon countries,” he said. “If this had happened in let’s say Latin countries then I think he would have been applauded.”

Chelsea’s John Terry. Picture: Nicolae Dumitrache/AP

» After Fifa awarded the hosting of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, where homsexuality is illegal, Blatter joked: “I’d say they [gay fans] should refrain from any sexual activities.”

» In the wake of the Luis Suárez and John Terry racism sagas in 2011, Blatter said that racism on the pitch could be resolved through a handshake after the match.

He was condemned by footballers including David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand.

» When AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off the pitch after being racially abused by fans earlier this year, Blatter failed to back him.

Kevin-Prince Boateng. Picture: Martin Meissner/AP

“I don’t think you can run away, because eventually you can run away if you lose a match,” Blatter said.

“This issue is a very touchy subject, but I repeat there is zero tolerance of racism in the stadium; we have to go against that.”

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