Finally, we get to see Sepp Blatter sweat. Since news broke late Tuesday night that the U.S. was planning to indict 14 present and former FIFA executives for various instances of corruption, the hope of every informed soccer fan was that Blatter, FIFA's long-running president and a notoriously corrupt, misogynistic and vindictive man, would be among the suits going down.
Blatter was not among the seven executives arrested by Swiss authorities and facing extradition to the United States. But he's far from out of hot water: Many believe the United States will use information gathered from the extradited officials to amass a case against Blatter, and then use that evidence to bring him down as well. So it's no surprise that Blatter, who has often remained smug and stubborn in the face of corruption accusations, is now sweating like a glass of lemonade in Qatar.
Blatter knows that the U.S. authorities are out to get him, and he knows better than we do just how long of a rap sheet he's racked up. It doesn't help him at all that his native Switzerland is helping American officials in every way possible. His best shot at escaping personal ruin is to be as accommodating and innocent-sounding as possible.
Step one in that process was issuing a statement that is unlike anything Blatter has ever said or written.
To help you put it into context, we've put the text of his statement in bold along with a sentence-by-sentence breakdown of how Blatter's statement conflicts with his lifelong body of work:
"This is a difficult time for football, the fans and for FIFA as an organisation."
This is far from a "difficult time" for soccer and its fans. If anything, it is the very end of a difficult time, and will hopefully be remembered as a day of emancipation. Fans and soccer players -- even low-level soccer executives representing individuals countries -- have known for years that corruption ruled the day among FIFA's executive leaders.
The rumored bribery and monetary gifts, extending into the millions, were a poorly kept secret that FIFA was lucky to carry on as long as it did.
"We understand the disappointment that many have expressed and I know that the events of today will impact the way in which many people view us."
The prevailing negative views of Blatter -- and, by association, FIFA's leadership -- have been more or less set in stone since 2013, when he patted himself on the back for presiding over a FIFA Congress that featured a record three women.
"Say something, ladies!" Blatter said. "You are always speaking at home, say something now!"
"As unfortunate as these events are, it should be clear that we welcome the actions and the investigations by the US and Swiss authorities and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken to root out any wrongdoing in football."
In reality, some of Blatter's closest allies were among those arrested in Switzerland early Wednesday, some of whom had been perpetuating a corrupt system and using FIFA as an anchor for organized crime for more than two decades.
In 2012, Blatter admitted that he knew about some of this corruption, including the monetary gifts and bribes, but he refused to take action over them.
"Back then, such payments could even be deducted from tax as a business expense. Today, that would be punishable under law. You can’t judge the past on the basis of today’s standards. Otherwise it would end up with moral justice."
One year earlier, Blatter had commissioned a study that recommended he implement a system for disclosing cash payments made to FIFA officials.
"While there will be many who are frustrated with the pace of change, I would like to stress the actions that we have taken and will continue to take. In fact, today’s action by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General was set in motion when we submitted a dossier to the Swiss authorities late last year."
It's unclear how much of a role Swiss authorities had in the investigation, and no one is disputing that FIFA submitted a dossier. But officials on all sides seem to credit the U.S. Justice Department as the lead organization in running the investigation. Most of the charges levied against FIFA executives relate to unlawful practices regarding CONCACAF, the North American football confederation to which the United States belongs.
"I will take care of it personally, to ensure there is no corruption at FIFA," Blatter said in response to outrage over the league's rampant use of bribes and personal kickbacks when making business decisions. That quote was spoken in 2011.
"Let me be clear: such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game. Following the events of today, the independent Ethics Committee – which is in the midst of its own proceedings regarding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups - took swift action to provisionally ban those individuals named by the authorities from any football-related activities at the national and international level."
The Ethics Committee is more of a public relations tool than an actual committee with power. No matter what it turns up or recommends regarding FIFA's handling of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups -- both Russia and Qatar allegedly used bribes to buy votes from FIFA executives, ranging from millions of dollars in cash to valuable paintings gifted from Vladimir Putin himself -- Blatter and FIFA have insisted that both countries will go on as hosts of their respective tournaments.
FIFA's refusal to effectively address such corruption is why the Justice Department has stepped in.
"These actions are on top of similar steps that FIFA has taken over the past year to exclude any members who violate our own Code of Ethics.
Blatter is correct that several FIFA members associated with the World Cup bid bribery were either kicked out or chose to resign in light of the scandal. But a report from March 2014 revealed that several FIFA executives had also plotted to kick out Michael Garcia, the head of FIFA's Ethics Committee, for taking too hard a line with executives over numerous uncovered violations.
"We will continue to work with the relevant authorities and we will work vigorously within FIFA in order to root out any misconduct, to regain your trust and ensure that football worldwide is free from wrongdoing."
Here's Blatter in 2011, once again facing accusations of FIFA corruption:
"If this is true, I will fight this. I am fighting for FIFA to clean FIFA. I cannot answer for individual members of our committee. I cannot say if they are all angels or if they are all devils."
Blatter never did come up with a good answer. Now the Justice Department is cleaning his house, and all he can do is hide in the closet.