FIFA: PRESIDENT'S BIOGRAPHY
10 March 1936
French, English, Spanish, Italian
Ø FIFA President (since 1998)
Ø General Secretary 1981-1998
Ø Technical Director 1975-1981
JOSEPH S. (SEPP) BLATTER was born on 10 March 1936 in the Swiss town of Visp, near the famous Matterhorn. He graduated from the colleges of Sion and St Maurice with a school-leaving certificate and then gained a degree in Business Administration and Economics from the Faculty of Law at the University of Lausanne. He has one daughter.
· Active footballer from 1948 to 1971 (played in the top Swiss amateur league)
· Board member of Neuchâtel Xamax from 1970 to 1975
· Member of the Panathlon Club (association of sports officials)
· Member of the Swiss Association of Sportswriters since 1956
· Member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 1999
On 8 June 1998, Joseph S. Blatter was elected in Paris at the 51 FIFA Congress as the eighth FIFA President and succeeded Dr João Havelange (Brazil). With this victory, the Swiss, who had already been at FIFA for 23 years in various roles, attained the highest position in international football.
Joseph S. Blatter began his professional career as Head of Public Relations of the Valaisan Tourist Board and then became General Secretary of the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation in 1964. He later pursued journalistic and public relations activities in sport and the private sector. As Director of Sports Timing and Public Relations of Longines, he was involved in the organisation of the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games and thus came into contact with the international sporting arena.
In mid-1975, as Director of FIFA Development Programmes, Joseph S. Blatter began to implement President João Havelange’s projects in this area. It was a time when ideas for competition and educational programmes were coming to the fore, and the foundations were being laid for World Cups in the U-20 and U-17 age groups as well as for women’s football and indoor football (futsal), all of which have since become an integral part of FIFA’s global activities.
In 1981, the multilingual Swiss was appointed General Secretary by the FIFA Executive Committee and he was later vested with the powers of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 1990. No fewer than five World Cups were held under his aegis (Spain 1982, Mexico 1986, Italy 1990, USA 1994 and France 1998). Together with João Havelange, he also played a leading role in negotiating the TV and marketing contracts for the commercial exploitation of the World Cup up to 2006.
At the end of March 1998, he decided to run for FIFA President on the back of the direct support and interest manifested by numerous associations from all confederations, and was elected at the 1998 Congress. On 29 May 2002, he was re-elected in Seoul and he secured a further four-year term by acclamation in Zurich on 31 May 2007. He was re-elected again on 1 June 2011.
Joseph S. Blatter is one of the most skilful exponents of international sports diplomacy, placing himself wholeheartedly at the service of football, FIFA and young people. His decades of work in various spheres of world football have given him the necessary experience, contacts and skills to lead football into the future and overcome the associated challenges.
He is committed to the fundamental democracy of FIFA and to permanent dialogue with the 209 member associations and the six confederations. His global mindset has resulted in World Cups being held for the first time in Asia (2002) and Africa (2010) during his period at the helm. Russia (2018) and the Arab world (2022) are also set to debut as hosts of the competition, which is the logical continuation of a development that he initiated.
In the decision-making process, he speaks to everyone involved – players, coaches and referees. He is also on the ball when it comes to the technical aspect of the game, and is open to rule modifications and changes aimed at making football more attractive and credible, of which the introduction of goal-line technology and vanishing spray are two of the most recent examples.
Promoting women’s football is an issue that is dear to Joseph S. Blatter’s heart, and the Women’s World Cup being held in Canada in 2015 will feature 24 teams for the first time, representing a further milestone. Women’s football has enjoyed significant growth at both elite and grassroots level under his watch, with the game now being played by over 30 million women and girls worldwide. In many countries, football is a key weapon in the fight for equal rights, and there remains much to be done in Africa and Asia in particular.
According to the FIFA President, football – the quintessential team sport – stands for “basic education, character formation and fighting spirit, allied with respect and discipline”. For him, it is “the best school of life”, a view borne out by FIFA’s education and training events, of which 579 were held in 2014 alone.
Joseph S. Blatter considers that the spirit of fair play inherent in the game should foster a better understanding among the peoples of the world. “Football is synonymous with theatre and entertainment and is hence an object of unequalled fascination for the media. It can even spark artistic creativity and, of course, creates many jobs. But it is above all an endless source of passion and joy. It is physical movement that simultaneously moves the emotions. It is the most popular and talked-about game in the world,” he says.
Football creates hope and social progress in economically deprived regions. FIFA programmes such as “Football for Hope” and “Football for Health” are laying important social groundwork in this respect. The “11 against Ebola” campaign launched in West Africa in 2014 helped significantly to educate people about the epidemic.
In 1994, Joseph S. Blatter was the driving force behind a partnership with SOS Children’s Villages, a children’s charity supported financially and materially by FIFA that operates in 132 countries and currently provides care in 449 villages. In total, FIFA has invested over USD 2 billion in development projects under his presidency, setting the benchmark for the future.
The FIFA President is also committed to providing direct aid in the form of football equipment for refugee camps and is involved in the fight against child labour, which is why FIFA, under his leadership, has signed a code of conduct with the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO).
Thanks to his achievements, football is now the focal point of numerous business initiatives. At the same time, the FIFA President sees it as his duty to preserve the game’s integrity with all of its human aspects, and considers bringing football’s various stakeholders together as both an ongoing challenge and his greatest goal.
Since 1998, FIFA has developed into one of the most profitable organisations in the world, with financial reserves of some USD 1.5 billion at the end of the 2014 financial year. Seventy per cent of FIFA’s profits go back into football via the 209 FIFA member associations in the form of development funds. At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, FIFA also set a benchmark for environmental protection, social development and sustainable event management, examples of which include offsetting all CO emissions of FIFA and the local organisers, 18% of tickets going to disabled and socially disadvantaged people and 445 tonnes of waste from the stadiums being recycled.
As an IOC member, Joseph S. Blatter is on the Foundation Board of the World Anti-Doping Agency, where he is actively involved in the fight against doping.
His key messages and aspirations are credibility, transparency and fair play. Inspired by his “football for all, all for football” philosophy, a new FIFA motto came into being in 2007:
“For the Game. For the World.”