How’s this for crisis communications?
Step 1. Deny the crisis.
Step 2. Show contempt.
In a press conference on Monday, FIFA President Sepp Blatter responded to a journalist’s question about a possible crisis at the organization by saying:
“If somebody would describe to me a crisis, what is a crisis? Football is not in a crisis. We have just seen a beautiful Champions League final with Barcelona, with fair play. We are only in some difficulties. And they will be solved inside our family.”
The organization has faced allegations of vote-buying regarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which is the topic Blatter seemed to dodge with his dismissive answer.
FIFA, an acronym for International Federation of Association Football (in French, modifiers such as “international” come second), is the governing body for football (or “soccer,” if you’re in the United States).
On the U.K.-based PR Media Blog
, PR professional Mark Perry explores whether Blatter has thrown away one of the only chances he’ll get to set the record straight for FIFA, which has denied rumors of mismanagement and corruption.
Perry also holds up Blatter’s performance as an example of what CEOs should not do when a journalist asks a tough question. Perry said:
“[Blatter] patronized the journalists, stopping at one point—when a murmur went around the room as he avoided actually answering the questions—to tell the room to show him more respect.
“His whole approach was adversarial and showed contempt for the journalists who dared to ask any difficult questions. He certainly was not trying to show any contrition or win any media battle. The premise was this: he was right; they were wrong.”
The press conference was cut short and, as The New York Times
reported, both sides—the press and FIFA officials—left the event unhappy.