As the much-anticipated FIFA press conference got underway in Switzerland on Monday, British comedian Lee Nelson interrupted disgraced FIFA head Sepp Blatter in the most perfect way: by throwing money at him. There's perhaps no better way to get Blatter's attention than by spraying him with dozens of banknotes. OK, so the dollar bills were fake, but I think the international soccer community still appreciates the gutsy gesture.
Nelson, the comedic alter ego of Simon Brodkin, is known for pulling pranks like this on public figures and celebrities. The wild and enthusiastic Nelson recently made headlines when he ran onstage during Kanye West's performance at the Glastonbury Music Festival. Nelson later dedicated that stage-crash to Taylor Swift, of "Taylor, I'mma let you finish" fame.
This press conference heckling, though, tops the Kanye West bit, if only for the look on Blatter's face when he sees Nelson's pile of money dance through the air. Lee Nelson, you truly made it rain.
The reason for all those dollar bills should be obvious by now. The embattled FIFA president announced his resignation in early June, following the Department of Justice's sweeping criminal indictment of more than a dozen FIFA officials and corporate sports executives. Although Blatter still holds his position as president, there have been many calls within the organization to release him earlier than planned.
Blatter called Monday's press conference to also deliver new reforms to the international soccer association. When Blatter formally announced his resignation at a press conference last month, he said FIFA was in need of a "profound overhaul" and promised to establish new rules, such as term limits and “integrity checks” for FIFA executive committee members.
The disgraced FIFA leader, however, could barely get a word in before Nelson ran to the front of the room. The British comedian heckled Blatter for a moment before spraying the fake dollar bills. Blatter then paused the press conference to sweep up the counterfeit cash.
Blatter is expected to stay in his position as FIFA president until February, when an internal election for a new president is scheduled, FIFA announced Monday. “I will not be a candidate for the election in 2016,” Blatter told reporters at Monday's press conference, shortly after the money-themed interruption. “There will be a new president.”
Blatter has yet to be charged by the Justice Department with any criminal wrongdoing. However, many of the indicted FIFA officials held top-ranking positions within the organization. These nine officials were charged with money laundering, racketeering, conspiracy, and corruption, having been accused by the Justice Department of taking millions and millions in bribe money. Federal officials confirmed to The New York Times in late May that $10 million in bribes may be directly linked to Blatter, and there’s been speculation that the DoJ is trying to indict him.
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