Since assuming office in 1998 as FIFA President, Sepp Blatter was always the one to give out the best player award at every gala night.
It was a presidential honour he enjoyed for so many years that he could have never imagined that 13 years since he became president of the world football federation, he would be ostracized from the award he brought glitz and glamour to.
Blatter has stood side by side with every FIFA footballer of the year winner since 1999 and continued till the award evolved into the FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2010.
Unfortunately for the 79-year-old Swiss, it is a hard pill to swallow with the reality that he will not be at the 2015 FIFA Ballon d’Or gala night.
The eight-year ban on Blatter by the FIFA ethics committee restricts him from going close to anything football in the domestic or international level; more importantly, he cannot be seen at any FIFA-sanctioned event or programme.
The former ‘Pillar of Zurich’ has been charred to bear the perils of rejection from the community he helped bring to a state of uncontestable power and seemingly unquestionable status.
FIFA had been known as a place where lords ruled without being questioned – from the time of Joao Havelange, Blatter’s predecessor and mentor – but the former goalkeeper doubled the power of immunity any member of the federation once had before it all came crashing.
They were not to be touched by an outsider, and if a child in the house acted contrarily to the ‘secret’ codes of the order, that one was duly cautioned and punished in the ways of the house in Zurich.
With the Gala night just a few days away, Blatter watches as his baby gradually slips away from his hands and ‘never’ to return, unless his fight for redemption prevails.
Blatter, a former sports journalist, admits that even watching the awards on TV will have him constantly upset.
“It is ridiculous that he will not be able to go to the Ballon d’Or. Everybody in football will be in Zurich next week and he is banned. The award was his baby. It is very special for him,” Blatter’s spokesman, Klaus Stoehlker, opens up.
He may have a little to save for his name as he alleged blemish caused by the ban but that remains in the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), which now has the power over to decide if his 40 years of romance with FIFA will end in the ruining of his reputation by allegations of bribery and corruption.
Blatter’s relationship with Zurich dates back to 1975 when he worked as a technical director under Joao Havelange before moving up the ladder to the position of general secretary in 1981.
He remained FIFA’s scribe until 1998 when the godfather, Havelange, ‘stepped down’ for his enthronement as the next king of world football dynasty.