To the European member national associations of FIFA

Zurich, 22 April 2002

FIFA presidential elections

Dear Presidents,

I was taken aback by the copy I received of the circular letter that the President of UEFA sent to you on 19 April 2002 – a few days before the UEFA Congress is due to convene in Stockholm – and which was immediately released to the press.

Not only the fact that the circular and its enclosure contained not a single mention of the constructive work I have been carrying out for the past four years, but also that it arrived at a time when the press campaign mounted some weeks ago in an effort to destroy me, organised by
my critics and based only on unfounded allegations from the Senior Vice President of CAF and President of the Somalia FA, is reaching new dimensions of lies and unprecedented levels of defamation.

Those who have known me for the past thirty years will be fully aware that I am incapable of what I am accused: buying votes, destroying documents, fear of the truth, dictatorial management of FIFA… Disciplinary action and complaints of defamation have been lodged with the FIFA
Disciplinary Committee and civil courts, notably against Mr Farah Addo.

But it would appear that this is not enough and, despite my letter dated 16 April 2002, I am compelled to contact you again to rectify this current campaign of vilification.

I have been working tirelessly for world and European football with a record of which I can be proud:

– the Goal Programme (20 countries in Europe) and the Financial Assistance Programme for 51 European national associations,
– financial aid to UEFA of USD 10 million over a period of four years, a figure that the body
has yet to account for,
– the establishment of the coordinated international match calendar, benefiting players,
clubs, professional leagues and, not least, national teams, representing a giant step forward for European football,
– a series of intensive negotiations resulting in the Declaration of Nice on the special characteristics of sport, passed in December 2000, and dealings with the European Commission based on dialogue and not on confrontation, as was previously the case,
– new transfer regulations, although not quite perfect, but still better than the damaging
consequences for football if negotiations with the European Commission had faltered, given the delicate financial relations between football and television companies,
– continual efforts in other spheres: the struggle against doping, standardising sanctions, professional refereeing etc…

All these points have been dealt with in the enclosed document refuting Mr Johansson’s accusations (click here to read the document).

But why this campaign of hatred and destruction, despite the support voiced by numerous European national associations, major European clubs, top players from many continents (Pelé, Beckenbauer, George Weah, Platini, Hugo Sanchez, Abedi Pelé etc…)?

After my election in 1998, I followed a policy of reconciliation and unity by nurturing constant
dialogue and by offering the chairmanship of FIFA’s most important committees to my opponents of the time without any desire to seek revenge.

But practically from the beginning, tensions were never fully dispelled:

– my new projects were impeded even to the point of unhinging them: Goal projects were delayed and there was constant opposition to the Club World Championship as well as an underlying negative attitude towards transfer negotiations etc…,
– the UEFA administration publicly criticised every project emanating from FIFA (coordination of the match calendar, professional refereeing, an annual Congress,
artificial turf),
– and with the announcement of ISL’s problems, attempts to blame me for its bankruptcy instead of supporting my efforts to create FIFA Marketing AG and salvage the situation.

In November 2001, concerted efforts were re-launched to oust me, enlisting above all the help of the British media and tabloid press:

– allegations – without any evidence and denied since then by a member of the Somalia delegation – of buying a vote in 1998 from someone whose own continent has discredited him for the manner in which he is conducting refereeing,
– constant criticism of FIFA’s financial situation in particular mentioning an exorbitant amount incurred by the collapse of ISL of despite confidence
. from rating agencies such as Moody’s and Standard and Poors,
. from private investors in the securitisation project,
. from financial partners such as Toshiba, Dentsu, Philips, Deutsche Telekom,
. from KPMG, the international audit company chosen by the Congress in 1998,
. from your colleagues, the Presidents of the national associations, who have been to Zurich to look at the accounts,
. in the work of the Direction of Finances and in the financial provisions envisaged in FIFA’s budget.
– denunciation of my style of management at FIFA although all of you know from personal experience that my feet are firmly on the ground, that I am very receptive and accessible to everyone and to the needs of your national associations.

What is now happening is an attempt:

. to create, at all costs, a destructive climate of defamation,
. to conduct it hand in hand with the media,
. then to denounce it by placing the blame at my door,
. so as ultimately to call in a ‘new era’ to be organised by the ‘Mr. Clean’,
. only to maintain later that the campaign was being conducted by ‘gentlemen’.

What does the current situation reveal?

First of all, the fact of ‘creating’ a candidate to stand against me whatever the cost, regardless of the consequences for the image of FIFA, appears to be the only objective of those who lost to me in 1998.

Then, irritation and frustration with my work as President, serving national associations that are highly appreciative of my commitment.

The programme announced by my rival who has absorbed my ideas ranging from Goal to the notion of education through football, through to rotating the World Cup, enabling Oceania to qualify directly for the World Cup, to transparency as practised over the past four years (an
annual Congress etc…) and even the idea of a ‘United Nations of Football’ in the guise of one launched by Kofi Annan and me in June 1999! And the financial assistance programme for national associations.

The irony is that the very person who is questioning the financial situation of FIFA is calling for the continuation of programmes that are allegedly too costly.

On the other hand, the fear that an election at the Congress, with one record versus the other, one programme versus the other, will not be enough to defeat me. Hence the pernicious climate fervently organised so that this election is played out with the involvement of the media.
It is my vision of FIFA that grates and bothers some. It is the same one I have been nurturing for 27 years – a strong and pro-active FIFA, fair to everyone, working hand in hand with the confederations and at the service of the national associations.

I have been compelled to write to you directly to set right the proliferation of allegations in which truth has little meaning.

Yours sincerely,
Joseph S. Blatter
cc: FIFA Executive Committee

For more details contact:

Fifa Communications Division
Andreas Herren
T: +41 1254 9725