Best of the Blatter memes as FIFA senior management implodes

05 June 2015

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FIFA’s hair-raising disintegration at the top has provided an open goal for the world’s desktop satirists to ridicule the organisation

Will Edwards

After the bonanza of FIFA revelations in the past two weeks, it was surely just a matter of time before the organisation’s routinely slated president Sepp Blatter stepped down. Equally likely was that such an event would be marked by an explosion of internet memes, as the schadenfreude machine kicked into high gear and plugged into the world’s Photoshop platforms.

Among journalists, it has been an article of faith that long-running rumours of corruption at FIFA always had substance, and the Swiss registered charity (find out more about that astonishing status here) has been subject to scathing coverage for longer than many sports hacks would care to remember.

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However, things came to a head for the organisation last week when FBI agents, working alongside Swiss officials, stormed into Zurich’s five-star Baur au Lac hotel and arrested a number of their senior team.

Many commentators were surprised that Blatter was not one of those accused in that spate of arrests, and were even more stunned when not only did FIFA continue with itsr leadership election a few days later, but Blatter was yet again voted in. But as negative feedback poured in from players, managers, fan groups, national football governing bodies, and – perhaps most importantly – sponsors, the seemingly Teflon-coated Blatter finally realised the bad press was sticking.

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Just four days after being re-elected, Blatter resigned. In a statement he said: “While I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football… Therefore I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary congress to elect my successor.”

Rarely has the word “extraordinary” been more appropriate.

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Desktop satirists swooped on the president’s decision to dethrone himself, and Blatter memes soon flooded the web, including Blatter as lightning-spewing Emperor being destroyed by Darth Vader (see top), Blatter as Golem clutching the Jules Rimet trophy as he plunges into the Fires of Mount Doom (second down), Blatter banged up in jail and manhandled by police in alternative versions of FIFA videogame sleeves (third down), and Blatter as Bruce Jenner’s new, female identity Caitlyn (bottom). As the memes emerged, headlines and revelations continued, and further allegations of bribery and corruption in various parts of the globe have been reported.

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Interestingly, FIFA business partner HSBC – itself no stranger to corruption – stated this week: “We are continuing to review the allegations in the indictments ... to ensure that our services are not being misused for financial crime."

As far as reputational crises go, this has to be in the all-time Top 10: at the time of writing, 14 FIFA officials have been indicted, and with accusations still pouring in, it’s highly unlikely that the organisation, at least in its current form, can carry on in the same way.

Will Edwards is managing director at media training consultancy Bluewood Training.

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