Monday 20 February 2017

'Before thinking of leaving the boat, let me bring it back on the right course' - Blatter, 2003

In 2003, Sepp Blatter did his first ever interview with an Irish journalist, the Sunday Independent's Nick Webb who recalls meeting Blatter, and we reprint some of the Fifa boss's comments

Published 31/05/2015 | 02:30

Members of the media stand in front of the entrance of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland as Sepp Blatter is re-elected as FIFA president for a fifth term (REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)
Members of the media stand in front of the entrance of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland as Sepp Blatter is re-elected as FIFA president for a fifth term (REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)
Sunday Independent 2003

From the top pocket of his elegant suit, Blatter started to pull out some tickets. Would I like to go to the Champions League Final, he asked. AC Milan were due to play Juventus in the first all-Italian champions league final at Old Trafford later that evening. The centre of Manchester was thronged with chanting Rossoneri and Bianconeri fans and tickets for the final had sold out months earlier.

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Sepp smiled as he brandished the tickets. The psychology was clear. Take the tickets and ask soft questions. "No, thank you," I said. The Fifa chief looked surprised. And then the interview started.

I'd spent almost a year trying to persuade Blatter to do an interview with the Sunday Independent. There were dozens of phone calls and emails to his handlers and advisers in London and Switzerland. My pitch was that I wanted to know about the business side of Fifa and how it had become the most successful and profitable sporting body in history. Finally, Fifa agreed, a date was set. The afternoon of the Champions League final in Manchester on May 28, 2003. I'd have half an hour.

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