Watching the Sepp Blatter news conference yesterday, I was struck by a strange sense of deja vu. I had seen this scene played out somewhere before in the dim and distant past. A man of authority stood before an angry crowd who were demanding answers. A man who forgot that with authority comes responsibility. A man who did not have the backbone to meet that responsibility and decided to take the path of least resistance. "This has nothing to do with me."
Who was this man? Where had I seen him before? Then it struck me. This was Pontius Pilate, the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea from 26–36 AD. As I am neither two thousand years old, nor the owner of a particularly good memory, it was not the original events that I was taken back to, but rather Franco Zeffirelli's epic film from the late 1970s.
Here was a man who claimed he could see no wrongdoing, but who was willing to see people pay anyway so long as his own political career survived.
Sepp Blatter is not a man of biblical significance. As much as he may aspire to it, in two thousand years nobody will even have heard of him, much less be talking about him. He is, however, a man who finds himself in a position of authority and responsibility within an empire seeking world domination.
FIFA may have been established to unite the national football federations that represented the beautiful game that we all love so much in an attempt to bring order and establishment , but it has now become very big business and the factions are fighting for control. Blatter had a vision for expanding his empire into new territories, expanding its frontiers year after year. The public image of this expansion was to spread the beauty, culture and order of the game. However, dig beneath the surface and you find a desire to exploit the riches and wealth that come from gaining a bigger empire. The untold wealth of global domination awaited.
With increased power and wealth comes increased corruption. It may be a cliche, but power corrupts. The rulers become more and more desperate to hold onto power while rivals secretly plot revolutions and takeovers in their attempts to usurp power. Loyalty counts for nothing. Nobody can be trusted.
An empire in crisis is ripe for revolution. The natives are restless as the corrupt rulers continue to exploit the population for their own personal gain. However, when looking to overthrow a powerful empire, unity is required and the opposition is split into factions. Like a scene from 'The Life Of Brian,' The People's Front of Judea stand vehemently opposed to the Judean People's Front, the Judean Popular People's Front, the Campaign for a Free Galilee, and the Popular Front of Judea. Until those opposed to the corrupt leadership currently in place can find common ground and stand united against the corruption then the farce will go on. The weak leadership will stand unchallenged only because the opposition is even weaker. It is time to unite to confront the common enemy.
In the meantime the farce continues. Sepp Blatter can get away with saying "Crisis? What Crisis?" Like a mad emperor fiddling as Rome burns, Blatter can live in his deluded reality because the game goes on. The fans will continue to pay their taxes by turning up for games because they love football. Whoever is in charge of the world game we will continue to turn up and support our clubs. The events in a far away senate may seem far removed from the terraces we know so well, but we should not be complacent. The problem with a mad emperor is that he can pass mad laws. We already know that Mr Blatter is not averse to the odd crazy initiative aimed at expanding his empire. Some of his ideas, such as bigger goals or women in skimpy outfits, have been so outlandish to have been laughed away. However, some are more sinister. If rich nations can purchase a world cup then who knows what is next?
The time has come to remove this mad emperor. We are used to the idea of the fans being the ones who suffer, but this time it may be the game itself that is crucified as part of Sepp Blatter's obsession with holding onto power.