Sepp Blatter 2006

Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa)

Sepp Blatter was born on 10 March 1936 in the Swiss town of Visp, near the famous Matterhorn. He graduated from the Sion and St. Maurice Colleges in Switzerland with a school-leaving certificate, thereafter obtaining a Bachelor of Business Administration & Economics degree from the Faculty of Law at Lausanne University in Switzerland.

He began his professional career as Head of Public Relations of the Valaisan Tourist Board in Switzerland and in 1964, became General Secretary of the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation. He then pursued journalistic and public relations activities in the fields of sport and private industry.

In the summer of 1975, as Director of Technical Development Programmes at FIFA, Sepp Blatter began to set FIFA President João Havelange's projects into motion. It was the time when ideas for competition and educational programmes were germinating and the foundations being laid for competitions in the under-20 and under-17 categories as well as women's and indoor football, all pillars of FIFA's worldwide activity.

In 1981 the Executive Committee of the world governing body designated the multilingual Blatter as the new General Secretary and in 1990 promoted him to Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  As a result of the direct support and interest manifested by numerous national associations from all the confederations, he was prompted to stand at the 1998 FIFA Congress presidential election as their candidate. On 8 June, he was elected as the eighth FIFA President. This victory elevated Blatter onto the highest rung in international football. He was re-elected for a second term in May 2002.

During the course of his varied career, Sepp Blatter has received many awards and distinctions, including The Olympic Order, the “International Humanitarian of the Year" as well as the "Golden Charter of Peace and Humanitarianism" from the International Humanitarian League for Peace and Tolerance. He has been a recipient of the "American Global Award for Peace" and a Knight of the French Legion of Honour.  He has also been awarded two prestigious South African honours - Supreme Companion of "Tambo" from President Thabo Mbeki and the "Order of Good Hope".

Since 1999, he has been a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

FIFA played a major role in contributing to the international isolation of South Africa in the apartheid era but after a visit to South Africa in 1992, Sepp Blatter and João Havelange agreed to re-admit SA to FIFA.  What they had seen and heard supported the notion that transformation was irreversible.  The “irreversibility test” was a major tool of assessment for South Africa’s re-admission to the world body.  Only eight years after readmission to FIFA could SAFA make a bid for the 2006 World Cup and despite the failed attempt, Sepp Blatter was very supportive of South Africa and agreed to a continental rotation system, announcing that Africa’s time had come. All bidding for the 2010 World Cup would be from the African continent. Again in the 2010 bid, Sepp Blatter diplomatically understood that South Africa would be the logical choice. 

As FIFA’s President, he is one of the most versatile and experienced exponents of international sports diplomacy and is totally committed to serving football, FIFA and the youth of the world. 

The hosting of the event in 2010 will do much for job creation, national pride and tourism and the legacy of hosting a world cup in this country will certainly enhance the development of football.

His contributions as a champion of educational, social and economic opportunities to the world and his momentous contribution to South Africa in particular, make him a most deserving recipient of this award. It is an honour for NMMU to confer a Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa) on JOSEPH S BLATTER.