"A Drowning Man"

Last Friday Sepp Blatter's handlers announced that he would be holding a media conference immediately after FIFA's ethics committee handed down their decision.

Astonishingly, it seems clear that he expected it to be a victory lap, and was stunned when the punishment was announced: eight years for both him and his on-again-off-again ally, Michel Platini.

But as shocked as Blatter may have been, it was easily matched by the attendees, who saw a man variously described as "broken", "frail", "beaten down", "unwell" and "disheveled". Gone was the spritely, twinkle-eyed Swiss scoundrel, and in his place, suddenly, was a sad, confused old unshaven 80 year old man.

He did his best to sound defiant, and he answered questions in an impressive four languages, but his comments were mostly rambling, disjointed stings of non-sequiters.

Saying "we thought that we had convinced the panel", he launched into another explanation of the 2 million franc payment to Platini, this time describing it as "a donation" and "a gift" but then admitting that "There might have been an administrative error".

"We avoided the issue of corruption" he continued, in reference to the Committee's decision to pass on the question of whether the payment was a bribe; although it seems more than likely, the evidence wasn't there.

Noting that he had received the news of his suspension from members of the media instead of from official FIFA channels, he went for the now-standard Mandela reference:

“Nelson Mandela was speaking about humanity. Humanity is here we are in our world. Humanity needs no other thing but human beings being respected. I say that because celebrate humanity by football was the slogan of 2010 and was created by this great humanist Nelson Mandela."

(If you understand what he's talking about here, please drop me a line.)

Mostly though, he wanted everyone to know how unjust it all is.

“I am sorry. I am sorry that I am still somewhere a punching ball. I am sorry that as president of Fifa I am a punching ball. I am sorry for football. I am sorry for the 400+ Fifa members. I’m sorry. I am sorry about how I am treated in this world of humanitarian qualities.”

Then, apropos of nothing, he congratulated Barcelona for winning the Club World Cup. It was almost like a reflex.

Mostly though he "regrets" that he won't be able to continue his work of guiding FIFA's reform process, - "I can't do my job!" he exclaimed - even though he has "some really good ideas".

Still, he made it clear that he considers himself to be the President of FIFA and that "only the Congress" can replace him. The Ethics Committee has no jurisdiction over him.

"The committee has no right to go against the president"

He doesn't seem to grasp that, whatever well-wishes he may be receiving from all his longtime federation pals, the last thing any of them want now is for Blatter to be back in office. He's become a universal embarrassment and, what's worse, he no longer controls any money.

That's the funny thing about buying your friends: you have to keep the payments up.

Still, Sepp closed with a promise:

"I'll be back"