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Caricaturist blasted for taking Blatter’s name in vain

A Zürich court has banned a Danish drawing, but this time it isn’t the prophet who’s offended


FIFA president Sepp Blatter doesn’t react kindly to satire (Scanpix)

December 31, 2013
08:03

by Andreas Jacobsen


It would have been appropriate to publish an unflattering cartoon of football patriarch Sepp Blatter with this article, but not only are they difficult to find, they may also be illegal.

Just ask Danish graphic artist Olé Andersen. He recently lost a legal fight against the powerful FIFA president and will be fined 10,000 Swiss francs if anyone anywhere in the world publishes a drawing from his book ‘The Platter Cartoons’.

The book never made it into the public domain because an army of FIFA-paid lawyers made sure that a court in Zürich in Blatter’s native Switzerland banned the satirical cartoons, citing how they would “damage Blatter’s good reputation”.

Blatter also claimed that the cartoons had “no aesthetic value” and shouldn’t be entitled to “any freedom of art”, according to the Scottish journalist Andrew Jennings’s blog Transparency in Sport.

Andersen ready for a fight
While Andersen hasn’t been allowed to defend his case yet, the Danish cartoonist said that he won’t just accept the ruling.

“Of course I won’t give up,” Andersen told Ekstra Bladet tabloid from his home in Luzern, Switzerland.

“Blatter may have won this round, but the case will proceed into next year. Then I’m hoping for a different outcome.”

‘The Platter Cartoons’ follows the adventures of a fictional, corrupt football president, Sepp Platter, who has a reputation for sexist remarks and shady friendly favours. But the real president now wants the book banned and Andersen to give up his trade.

“But I won’t do that. I think I made a funny book that deserves to get published,” he said.

Old acquaintances
Andersen was a football player in Denmark before he joined a professional team in Switzerland. When he became an artist, he even worked closely with Blatter in the 1980s and 90s when he designed the trophies for the FIFA U-17 World Cup and the FIFA Futsal World Cup.

But without warning, FIFA blacklisted Andersen and he and Blatter didn’t speak for 20 years.

“But two years ago he visited me when I got sick, probably to make sure that I was dying,” Andersen said. ”I wasn’t, but I asked him why he stood me up.”

“He explained he had suffered from a brain haemorrhage that had affected his memory, meaning that he couldn’t remember anything from that time.”

It is unclear whether Blatter can remember any of the events that are satirised in the book.

What is clear is that he has listed FIFA as a second complainant meaning that Blatter, who is #69 on Forbes’ most powerful people of 2013, is backed by the world football governing body and will have most of his legal expenses covered.

The odds would appear to be stacked against Andersen – even before a single one of his cartoons has been published. Whether they are finally released into the public domain via next year’s trial will be a matter for the court.