Facing corruption charges from U.S. prosecutors and endless bashing by worldwide media, embattled FIFA president Sepp Blatter resigned last week, then agreed to sit down for an exclusive one-on-one, bare-all interview with Couch Slouch. We met at a café around the corner from a bank where he’s had an offshore account since 1938. He sipped on Dom Perignon and I drank Yoo-hoo. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation:
Couch Slouch: Let’s start on a positive note – was there ever any doubt in your mind about winning a fifth term as FIFA president?
Blatter: I thought I had the votes, and if I don’t have the votes, I can buy them.
CS: But then – four days after you said, “Why would I step down?” – you stepped down. Why?
Blatter: Things change.
CS: When you wake up every morning, do you feel universally reviled?
Blatter: No, I feel refreshed. Then again, I often sleep on a bed of 100-euro bills, and trust me, that’s refreshing.
CS: Fourteen men were indicted on bribery-related charges. Isn’t it fair to say there is a stench of misconduct enveloping FIFA?
Blatter: It’s only a bribe if they catch you.
CS: What ran through your mind when you saw all those arrests at the Baur au Lac Hotel, essentially shaming FIFA publicly for its institutionalized unscrupulousness?
Blatter: Room service at the Baur au Lac is unequaled. They do wonderful things with truffles.
CS: How do you respond to outsiders who believe FIFA is corrupt to its core?
Blatter: Certainly not to its core.
CS: What do you say to your critics who have long called for an end to FIFA’s backroom deals?
Blatter: These are people who have never had a good cigar in a nice backroom.
CS: Even Visa expressed disappointment in FIFA and said it would reassess its sponsorship.
Blatter: I love my Visa card – I don’t leave home without it.
CS: That’s American Express.
Blatter: I also use American Express – I have a higher credit limit on that card.
CS: Are you worried that you are now the focus of a federal corruption investigation?
Blatter: Tcch. I will go on “Larry King” and explain everything.
CS: Are you concerned that some FIFA officials might cooperate with the investigation and spill the beans on you?
Blatter: The check’s already in the mail.
CS: How ’bout Jack Warner?
Blatter: Today – maybe tomorrow – I settle all family business.
CS: Do you plan to retire?
Blatter: No. I already have feelers from the IOC, Wal-Mart and Hewlett-Packard.
CS: Doesn’t your legacy at FIFA seem shattered with this investigation exposing a 24-year scheme of impropriety?
Blatter: I’ve only been president for 17 years.
CS: Racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, officials taking more than $150 million in bribes. How do you account for this?
Blatter: What you call “bribes,” I call “gifts” – you should see the gold-plated music box from South Africa on my desk. It’s very lovely.
CS: With all due respect, your resignation notwithstanding, you seem nonchalant about the fact that we’re talking about a 47-count indictment, a laundry list of endless shenanigans.
Blatter: Please. This isn’t even Deflategate.
CS: In light of all the revelations – and more might be forthcoming – any thought of moving the 2022 World Cup from Qatar to the U.S.?
Blatter: Over my dead body, and I don’t plan on dying.
CS: But by shifting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from summer to fall because of the heat there, doesn’t that indicate FIFA erred by awarding that nation the Cup?
Blatter: We did not shift the ’22 Cup from summer to fall because of the heat. We shifted it because there’s been a slight delay in receiving proper funds from the host country’s benefactors.
CS: You’re telling me that all of those funds won’t be in FIFA’s hands until late in 2022?
Blatter: It’s a rather large amount.
Ask the Slouch
Q. Please don’t take this as a criticism, but what do you find so appealing about bowling? (Joe Fumo; Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin)
A. Listen, pal, if I were stranded on a desert island and all they had there were three jars of Jif peanut butter, a half-keg of Yuengling and an abandoned bowling alley, I could survive for three years.
Q. Does winning the National Spelling Bee make a future collegiate student-athlete ineligible by NCAA guidelines? (Kevin Doherty; Silver Spring, Maryland)
A. No, but if that student-athlete enrolls at North Carolina, he or she probably would receive a degree without even attending phantom classes.
Q. The Red Sox seem to be struggling a bit. Do you think maybe there’s too much air in their baseballs? (Bob Hudson; Silver Spring, Maryland)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Norman Chad is a syndicated columnist.
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