Blatter, Joseph S. (Sepp)

Blatter was born in the Swiss town of Visp, near the famous Matterhorn on 10 March 1936. He graduated from the Sion and St. Maurice colleges in Switzerland, and then obtained a degree as Bachelor of Business Administration and Economics from the Faculty of Law at Lausanne University. He was an active footballer between 1948 and 1971, and played for the Swiss amateur league in the top division. Blatter is married and has one daughter.

Being German speaking from home, he is also fluent in French, English, Spanish, and Italian. The eighth FIFA President resides in Zurich, Switzerland. By the end of March 1998 the direct support and the interest manifested by many national associations from all the confederations encouraged him to stand at the 1998 FIFA Congress presidential election as their candidate. He was elected as the successor to Dr. João Havelange (Brazil) as FIFA President on 8 June 1998. The election at FIFA’s 51st Ordinary Congress in Paris distinguished Blatter, who had already served FIFA in various positions since the early sixties, onto the highest rung of the international football ladder. His election and victory over UEFA President, Lennart Johansson were marked with controversy.

Blatter started his professional career, as Head of Public Relations of the Valaisan Tourist Board in Switzerland, and in 1964 became General Secretary of the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation. Following this, he took up journalistic and public relations activities in the fields of sport and private enterprise. As the Director of Sports Timing and Public Relations of Longines S.A., Blatter he was drawn into the administration of the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games where he obtained his first taste of the international sports arena.

As the Director of Technical Development Programmes for FIFA, he started to initiate former President João Havelange’s projects in the summer of 1975. It was during this period that ideas for competition and educational programmes were developing, and the foundations being laid for competitions in the under-20 and under-17 categories, as well as women’s and indoor football, all of which are cornerstones of the worldwide activity of FIFA.

In 1981 the Executive Committee of FIFA elected the multilingual Blatter as the new General Secretary and nine years later (1990) elevated him to the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In total five World Cups were staged under his auspices – Spain in 1982, Mexico in 1986, Italy in 1990, USA in 1994 and France in 1998. While this was happening he played a principal role in the negotiations for the television and marketing contracts and the modern commercialisation of the FIFA World Cup up to 2006 together with his predecessor in the presidency, Havelange.

Joseph S. Blatter was re-elected for a second term on 29 May 2002 in Seoul.

Blatter’s involvement in Sport

  • Member of the Board of Xamax Neuchattel FC from 1970 to 1975
  • Member of the Panathlon Club (society of sports managers)
  • Member of the Swiss Association of Sportswriters since 1956
  • Member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 1999

Blatter’s Awards

  • The Olympic Order
  • Honorary member of the Swiss Football Association
  • A knighthood (with the title of Dato’) from the Sultanate of Pahang
  • The “Order of Good Hope”, awarded by the Republic of South Africa
  • “Order of Independence (1st class)” of Jordan
  • “Grand Cordon du Wissam Alaouite” of Morocco
  • “Medalla al Mérito Deportivo ” of Bolivia.
  • “Grand Cordon de l’Ordre de la Rèpublique Tunisenne” of Tunisia
  • “International Humanitarian of the Year” as well as the “Golden Charter of Peace and Humanitarianism” from the International Humanitarian League for Peace and Tolerance
  • Numerous awards from clubs, national associations and confederations

For many years now Blatter involved himself in a wide variety of humanitarian projects, as he believes that football has a responsibility towards society. When he became President of FIFA June 1998, he has formed an alliance with the United Nations children’s organisation, UNICEF, and has co-launched the campaign “Pure Hope, Pure Football”, prior to going into latest campaign in collaboration with UNICEF on 20 November last year. “Say Yes for Children”. This campaign was launched in the run-up to the World Cup, and is an international campaign, which aims to increase awareness of children’s rights.