yet despite his reputation as villainous dictator he remains at the top of the world’s most profitable soccer organization after being re-elected as FIFA’s president.
Deep in FIFA’s morally corrupt string of allegations riff with fraud and humans rights abuses, somehow the president was able to score a fifth consecutive term. His only competition was Jordan’s prince Ali bin al-Hussein, who obligingly stepped aside once Blatter gained 133 of 209 votes in the first round of voting.
Blatter’s ego did not hold back from inflating once he was relieved of the pressure.
“It is my congress, I have the right to make the closing remarks. This is a very important congress. You see I am in a good mood. I was a little bit nervous today, but now I am the president of everybody, I am the president of the whole Fifa.”
Yes, Sepp Blatter really did just say: "But I am now the president of everybody." pic.twitter.com/nzp3JAz0mW— Elana Zak (@elanazak) May 29, 2015
The Twitter community, of course, didn’t hold back either from poking fun at Blatter’s universal declaration as the ultimate king of soccer. Yet as ridiculous as Blatter’s proclamation was, he is not wrong to boast his extreme power. He is the most reviled man in sports currently, but somehow continues to reign on?
"The president of everybody" pic.twitter.com/Y1W97HrtEb— Connor Berry (@Con_J_Bizzle) May 29, 2015
The source of Blatter’s unyielding power is not necessarily corruption, but rather his ingenious ability to create strong loyal ties to him through distribution of FIFA’s official funds.
Initially, FIFA was set up as a hierarchy with European countries at the top followed by a few Latin American countries with intervening power and the rest a mass of chaos simmering at the bottom.
Yet soccer evolved in the subsequent decades with decolonization and mass political movements surrounding Third World solidarity and Europe as the supreme rulers collapsed and the soccer regime became decentralized.
Blatter took over Brazilian Joao Havelange presidential term in 1998 and furthered that decentralization.
"Like every populist who wants to create a more inclusive society and displace the old elite, Blatter had to create his own constituency," writes academic Branko Milanovic.
And Blatter did this by spreading the soccer wealth evenly so as to guarantee an overwhelmingly supportive and grateful cluster of smaller nations.
As Quartz notes, “FIFA is organized on a one-country, one-vote system” so smaller countries’ votes matter just as much as the big, European ones. Ultimately the system is not about popular opinion, instead focused on where the cash is flowing into.
So while Europe stands against him, his faithful band of followers from these tiny nations remain true.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron both called for Blatter to go on Friday, but smaller nations wouldn’t dream of it.
It would be “blasphemy” and “treason” to vote against him, Guinea-Bissau soccer president Manuel Nascimento Lopes said before the vote. “Africa will vote for Mr Blatter and I will follow that.”
Blatter, undoubtedly aware of the allegiance, mindfully reinforces the steadfast loyalty by continuously giving back to the non-Western world. In his acceptance speech on Friday, the soccer tycoon called for additional prominence to be given to Oceania. Even in the most remote corners of the world, Blatter gives generously. Since 2011, FIFA has given the Cook Islands, a nation of only 11,000, payments totaling to $999,000.
Lee Harmon of the Cook Islands soccer association captured the reasoning behind the unbreakable commitment.
“Before Blatter became president, you know how much funding each member association got from FIFA? Zero. Is that enough to convince you why we’re voting for Blatter?”
So as long as Blatter keeps up his devoted circle, no amount of corruption will be enough to tear him down from his throne.