ZURICH: FIFA president Sepp Blatter may have come across as being out of touch with the fan in the street at his astonishing news conference on Monday, but the 75-year-old Swiss had another audience firmly in his mind.
Flatly denying there was any crisis at FIFA amid a room of heckling reporters, he still delivered a message that the majority of the ruling body's 208 member countries wanted to hear.
He admitted the sport's ruling body was facing "difficulties" but the members should be assured that their strong leader would take care of business as he has done for the last 13 years.
It is not the fan in the street that keeps Blatter in what he described himself as "his privileged position" but the presidents and chairmen who vote to have him in power.
On Wednesday, they will not even have to do that as the man who was planning to stand against him, 62-year-old Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam, was banned from all football related activity on Sunday following an inquiry by FIFA's ethics committee into bribery allegations.
But wait; as they say in the infomercials; there's more - read on:
So Blatter took centre-stage in FIFA's auditorium, standing behind a lectern with artificial flowers in containers at his feet to add a touch of colour to the otherwise sombre grey and black decor.
His mood also seemed to veer between steely grey and black as he ran through his usual repertoire of buzz-words and phrases like "football family", "devils in football" and "I used to be a journalist".
After one vociferous English reporter demanded the answer to a shouted question despite not having the floor microphone, Blatter responded: "Listen gentlemen, I accepted to have a press conference with you, alone here, I respect you, please respect me and the procedure of the press conference.
"Don't intervene, we are not in a bazaar here, and we are in the FIFA House, in front of a very important FIFA Congress."
Blatter later responded to another journalist who laughed openly at one of his answers.
"You can laugh," he said. "But that is also an attitude, elegance is also an attitude and respect is also an attitude.
"I have learned this in my life."
There's one important thing that Sepp Blatter has learned in his life; how to feather his own nest. We have no doubt that Blatter is well aware of what his underlings have been up to; he would have had to be devoid of sight and hearing not to.
Corruption is endemic in FIFA. One need only have read investigative reporter Andrew Jennings' excellent 2006 book FOUL! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote-Rigging and Ticket Scandals to know that there are few too many questions and hardly any answers when it comes to allegations against FIFA. Vice-president Jack Warner, now suspended by FIFA for alleged corruption has been at the heart of things, and it defies belief that Blatter was unaware of what one of his most senior counterparts was up to.
Blatter's performance at today's press conference has merely added fuel to the fire. The FIFA Ethics Committee cleared Blatter at the weekend of anything unethical, but that was an entirely predictable result; turkeys don't vote for an early Christmas. But the same committee has neatly sidelined Blatter's rival for the presidency of FIFA at this week's election.
There are now calls for a boycott of FIFA's congress this week, so that there is no quorum, and Blatter's re-election as FIFA President cannot be rubber-stamped. A few interesting days await.
Kindred blogger Robert Winter at Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow has been following the FIFA debacle. His posts are well worth a read and whilst we may disagree with him on matters politic, we strongly agree with him as regards FIFA. His latest post describes FIFA as "a basket-case".
FIFA is indeed in crisis, despite Blatter's platitudes and state of denial. The organisation cannot begin to clean up its act until Blatter is sidelined.