Sepp Blatter, the World Cup and Why You Don't Matter

Just under two weeks from today - June 11 to be precise - Antiquarian FIFA Grand Poobah Sepp Blatter will mount a suitably garish podium at the Transamerica Expo Center in Sao Paolo to address the heads of the 209 official FIFA nations assembled before him, who will hopefully be sober enough at that point to be paying attention.

The scene will resemble nothing quite so much as those old Soviet newsreels which show huge auditoriums full of apparatchiks on their feet clapping and cheering madly because there are NKVD agents carefully watching to see who stops applauding first, ready to book said slacker into a suite at the Siberian arms.

Once the spontaneous display of love and affection for the Great Swiss Gasbag finally dies down, the 78 year old President will humbly ask the Congress to "consent" to him running for a fifth term as their leader and personal ATM.

He'll likely repeat the mantra he offered up to reporters a couple of weeks ago when he said ''My mandate is almost over but my mission is not finished", a ine which is tried and true considering that four years ago, when running for the same office he used the same exact line.

There won't be a dry eye in the house as the shocked - even thunderstruck - delegates, delirious with feigned surprise and glee, offer him their most heartfelt endorsement.

Then, in a truly remarkable juxtaposition, the very next day in Itaquerao stadium in Sao Paulo, after having arrived in a limo using a single lane of highway which police will block off for his exclusive use, Blatter will enter his private elevator and ascend to his private suite which includes his private bathroom - all of which are items included in FIFA's technical requirements -  to watch host Brazil play Croatia.

But unlike the scene just 24 hours earlier, and in a break with longstanding World Cup protocol, Blatter will not address the stadium crowd with a welcoming speech officially announcing the opening of the tournament.

FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke was surprisingly honest when the media asked him why Blatter would not be speaking; he told them that the anticipated booing would hurt Blatter's feelings:

''If you know that these things could happen, that at the end the (person who is) giving a speech will feel bad, why put them in this position?''

Why indeed.

The incredible contrast between the lavish, tongue slobbering love he'll receive from world soccer's nobility on June 11 and his cowardly refusal to submit to the opinion of the masses the next day illustrates brilliantly the true problem with FIFA, and why nothing is going to change.

FIFA proudly trumpets the fact that football is the World's Most Popular Sport, played or followed by literally billions of people around the globe, with the World Cup being the biggest single sport event on Earth, all of which is undeniably true.

What's equally true however is that out of all of those billion or so fans, followers and players, the opinions of only 209 people matter to Sepp Blatter: the people who vote in FIFA elections.

And that small elite constituency loves him dearly.

A stunning example of how utterly contemptuous these people are towards the opinion of the association football community as a whole occurred back in March at the Executive Committee confab in Zurich.

Shortly after arriving, the 13 members who were on the ExCo when Russia and Qatar were awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively, were approached by lawyers working for FIFA's Ethics Investigation organization, headed by American Michael Garcia.

They were told that before departing the city they were to be deposed by Garcia on the topic of their votes as well as what they heard, what they saw and any improper approaches which they may have experienced prior to the balloting and would they kindly suggest a convenient time for said conversation.

Some of them promptly went ballistic.

In maybe the biggest unreported story of the year, a group of ExCo members began a hallway and cocktail lounge lobbying campaign aimed at shutting down the investigation.

Specifically, the proposal being mooted was to introduce a motion to the committee which would have a) fired Garcia b) fired his staff c) closed down the investigations bureau permanently and d) forbidden publication of any information currently in Garcia's possession.

Not that anyone has anything to hide.

The world's football journalism community would have screamed bloody murder, and not just that bunch of stiff-necked nags in Great Britain, either. The outcry might even have shaken  some of America's great soccer writers out of their chickenshitedness, having heretofore steadfastly avoided uttering a single word about FIFA (or CONCACAF) corruption, preferring their precious credentials and lavish FIFA-supplied perks to actually doing their jobs.

No one knows exactly who instigated the effort, exactly, although cryptic references were made to "Latin language speakers" by which I don't think they meant Ovid or Marcus Aurelius.

The plug got pulled on the movement by Northern Ireland's Jim Boyce and Jordan's Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein, both of whom vowed to oppose it with the former threatening to resign and go public with the whole stinking business.

Afterwards, to give credit where it's due, both UEFA's Michel Platini and CONCACAF President Jeff Webb issued statements saying that they fully support Garcia and want him to continue his work regardless of where it leads.

Still, the level of arrogance required to even suggest this kind of move demonstrates quite clearly just how much they care what however-many-bazillions of fans think. Football is theirs, they own it, and while all this corruption investigating stuff is nice window dressing, when it looked like Garcia was actually getting serious about it they were going to have it stopped.

The affair also demonstrates an utter cluelessness regarding FIFA's own rules; the Investigation Committee was authorized by the full FIFA Congress, and the ExCo can't constitutionally override it. Apparently they didn't care about that, either.

Even more interesting is that fact that Sepp Blatter has to personally approve of any new item which was not on the published meeting agenda. Otherwise, it can't be introduced, discussed or voted on, meaning that somebody was pretty sure he'd let the motion be made.

However, the really interesting - ironic? ridiculous? shocking? - thing about the whole affair is simply this:

In 2011, when Sepp Blatter told everyone that the reason he wanted a fourth term in office was so that he could "finish his mission", the "mission" he was referring to was his crusade to wipe out corruption within FIFA.

Never mind the fact that every single bit of the long litany of corruption had happened while he himself was in charge, that he provably knew about at least some of it and should have known about all of it, making his claim of being just the man to put an end to it utterly ludicrous.

He was on a crusade to clean it up and the Congress gave him an overwhelming mandate.

Fast forward three years and the entire process, his whole justification for re election, was on the verge of being tossed aside because it began to look like it actually might be getting someplace.

We don't know yet what his 2015 campaign theme will be. Probably women or racism or gambling or whatever. Doesn't matter. He couldn't possibly care less about any of it.

Fortunately, neither do the vast majority of delegates, every one of whom will be flown first class into Brazil (private jets are only for ExCo members, sadly), set up in luxury accommodations at five star hotels, dine on the finest cuisine and wines available, watch any matches they choose from luxury suites high atop the hoi palloi, refresh themselves in the special VVIP lounges provided for their comfort and consort with the biggest of the world's elite.

All courtesy of Their Pal Sepp. If they stay for two full months none of it wil cost them a dime.

The custom used to be that after the Cup was over federation Presidents had to present themselves at Sepp's hotel room so they could be awarded a "World Cup bonus" out of the organizations now-bulging coffers, said bonus given in cash if one preferred, and generally in the area of $200,000.

Now, Sepp prefers to travel to Confederation Congresses, make a speech, and then have everybody line up and get their take, like a bunch of kids waiting in line to see Santa.

What they do with it is, of course, up to them. No questions are ever asked.

Just like with the yearly $250,000 FIFA stipend every country gets or the regular $400,000 GOAL grants or any other rest of it. The World Cup makes it and Blatter ladles it out generously.

Go ahead. Hold all the elections you want. Boo him all you like.

209 guys just love him. And nobody else matters.