John Oliver toasts resignation of FIFA's Sepp Blatter with an ice-cold Bud

John Oliver toasts resignation of FIFA's Sepp Blatter with an ice-cold Bud
John Oliver is pleased to see Sepp Blatter go. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

John Oliver, 1: FIFA, 0.

Less than 48 hours after Oliver called for the ouster of FIFA President Sepp Blatter on his satirical HBO program, "Last Week Tonight," Blatter resigned from his post at the scandal-ridden international soccer organization.  

The English funnyman, a freshly minted Peabody Award winner, greeted the news with a celebratory tweet featuring a single word -- "champagne" -- and a picture of an ice-cold bucket of Bud Lite Lime.  

Say what? Well, allow us to explain. 

In a segment in Sunday night's show, Oliver, who'd already used his show to draw attention to the corruption at FIFA, celebrated the arrest last week of more than a dozen officials at soccer's  governing body.  

"It took the country that cares the least about football to bring down the people who have been ruining it," he joked of the FBI investigation. 

But his giddiness was tempered by dismay over the fact that Blatter sailed to reelection on Friday, just days after the arrests in Switzerland made headlines around the world and amid criticism over the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup. 

"All the arrests in the world are going to change nothing as long as Blatter is still there, because to truly kill a snake, you must cut off its head," said Oliver. Noting that FIFA's members have a vested financial interest in Blatter's continued leadership, he argued that "barring an indictment, the only people with the power to get rid of Sepp Blatter are FIFA's sponsors." 

With that, he urged the likes of McDonald's, Adidas and Budweiser to pull their support. So committed was Oliver, he even vowed to drink a bottle of Bud Light Lime if Blatter got the boot. 

"If you get rid of the Swiss demon who has ruined the sport that I love, this ... will taste like champagne," he said of the much-mocked fruity lager.

Apparently the sporting gods were listening: Blatter stunned the soccer community Tuesday by announcing he was stepping down from his post.

Whether Oliver had any influence in Blatter's undoing is subject to debate, but it's the second real-world win for the comedian, who has also been credited with raising public awareness around the issue of net neutrality.

Oliver has waged a crusade against FIFA since last year, when "Last Week Tonight" aired a widely circulated segment attacking the organization before the World Cup in Brazil.

As the comedian told reporters at a breakfast in February, the segment, which was made available for free on the "Last Week Tonight" YouTube account, seemed to have a reach that extended well beyond HBO's usual Sunday-night audience.

"On more than one occasion someone who does not speak English has grabbed me on the street and started ranting and raving in Portuguese. 'FIFA! FIFA!' It is amazing," he said. 

At the same event, Oliver declined to take credit for "moving the ball forward" on the issue of net neutrality, an issue then being weighed by the Federal Communications Commission. 

"You'd need to question whether the ball has moved," he said. 

When it comes to FIFA, at least, the ball certainly seems to have moved. 


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