Main Listening Report: Four Sepp Blatter Controversies

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In a week when FIFA president Sepp Blatter was embroiled in yet another scandal: this time about race, we report on four of the many controversies that FIFA’s leader has been involved in. This report has a transcript below, as well as explanations of key vocabulary (in bold) can be found at the foot of the post, while other key phrases (in blue) also have meanings explained.

Introduction

The current FIFA President Sepp Blatter has become embroiled in yet another controversy: this time after his comments to CNN that racism on the football field does not exist. He is, of course, no stranger to controversy, and the 75-year old Blatter has a collection of ‘interesting’ comments and quotes since he was elected president of FIFA in 1998.

Sepp and Race

Ever since Blatter’s comments to some media outlets this week that racism does not exist in football and that if any racial comments have been made during a game then ‘At the end of the game, we shake hands…”. This has caused outrage among many involved in the game as well as politicians and journalists. Sepp appears to have been shaken by the fury launched at him – there has been widespread condemnation about his comments leading to many calls for his resignation. Many of those calls have come from the UK where political leaders and those involved in the game have joined together to attack the FIFA president, though it should be remembered that the English media has had a long-running battle with Blatter since the decision to not award the 2018 World Cup to England was taken. Blatter refuses to resign but he has subsequently apologised for his comments.

Sepp and Homosexuality

The decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was also a controversial one, after all there is no football tradition, or even infrastructure in the Gulf State. Blatter argued that it was FIFA’s role to help expand the game of football to all parts of the world but when questioned about the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Qatar instead of suggesting that football may help in bringing change in this area, the FIFA president ‘jokingly’ suggested that homosexuals should ‘refrain from sexual activity’ during the tournament.. Gay rights organisations argued that this form of flippant remark sends out the wrong message to those who may need help, education or awareness on the subject. Again, Blatter had to make a grovelling apology insisting that he had not meant to use discriminatory language.

Sepp and Women

FIFA, of course, also run the women’s game and despite the fact that the female version of football is becoming increasingly popular Sepp felt that it needed a boost and so in 2004 he suggested that female players should wear shorter shorts, like their volleyball counterparts, in order to attract more viewers to the sport. Needless to say that the reaction to this comment, which frankly borders on the sexist, was not positively received at all.

Sepp and Corruption

FIFA is a huge business, one that makes large sums of money for the game and of course for the organisation itself. 2011 has not been a good year for the world footballing body though with claims and counter-claims concerning corruption within FIFA dominating the headlines during the summer. Two high-ranking FIFA officials have subsequently been removed but despite coming under intense pressure, Blatter remains in power. Indeed, Sepp even claimed that there is no crisis at all within the organisation.

It seems that yet again Blatter has survived calls for his resignation for the time being but undoubtedly some other controversy will surface again in the near future.

Vocabulary

has become embroiled in: Has become involved in (usually something controversial)

No stranger to controversy: Has been involved in quite a few scandals

widespread condemnation: Lots of people have attacked or criticised him

the fury: Very strong anger

‘interesting’: Here the writer has highlighted the word ‘interesting’ to show it in an ironic tone. Not really interesting but more scandalous.

refrain from: Should stop doing

flippant remark: A comment that is not very serious, a joke of sorts

grovelling apology: A strong apology; having to say sorry

discriminatory: The adjective form of discrimination

counterparts: Colleagues, equivalents

frankly borders on: In fact is practically, very similar to

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Listening Practice: Short Reports (2006-2016)Episode 114