Coe: Blatter thinks ‘idiots’ run English football

FIFA President Sepp Blatter once described English football as

being ”run by idiots,” according to Sebastian Coe.

Coe, who headed the London Olympics, worked with Blatter as

chairman of FIFA’s ethics committee before taking a role with

England’s failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

Russia won the hosting rights after England’s bid attracted only

two votes following Blatter voicing concerns about English media

intrusion into the FIFA executive committee.

In his new autobiography, Coe claims that Blatter has ”always

had a problem” with English football.

”From his perspective, it’s not hard to understand,” Coe

writes in an extract published by The Times of London newspaper.

”As president of an international federation, he sees the

unwillingness of English clubs to release players for international

duty. He sees the purchasing power of the English game – big-name

clubs buying up players from all over the world.

”And he sees a national federation that, at the time of the

bid, had no chairman or chief executive. And then he sees our

press, permanently focusing on his organization.”

Ahead of the FIFA vote, English Football Association chairman

David Triesman was forced to quit after covert recordings of him

making accusations about rival bidders were published by a

newspaper. That came shortly after FA chief executive Ian Watmore

quit following a power struggle.

”Your game is run by idiots. It’s not run by bright people,”

Coe recalls Blatter once saying to him, without naming any


The power struggles in the English game frustrated Coe, who said

”internecine warfare at home” hampered the World Cup bid.

”The fault, I believe, lies with the awful dysfunctionality of

the English game, its personalities and its politics,” Coe said.

”First, you have the FA, which is the regulatory body. Then you

have the Premier League, effectively the creation of Sky TV and

(Rupert) Murdoch money, and we’re talking billions here.

”Then you have the big clubs and the moguls, including (Roman)

Abramovich at Chelsea and the Glazers at Manchester United, not

forgetting the big-beast managers, such as Alex Ferguson (United)

and Arsene Wenger (Arsenal). This has always been a very

uncomfortable set of relationships, at best strained. The fact that

they didn’t trust each other and didn’t much like each other was a


Coe is now a vice president of the International Association of

Athletics Federations, and is due to become British Olympic

Association chairman next month.