ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter was showered with fake paper money by a British protester before the start of a press conference on Monday and, visibly shaken, walked out of the auditorium.
The protestor, identified by British media as comedian Lee Nelson, real name Simon Brodkin, was taken away by Swiss police.
Nelson was wearing a North Korean flag and before hurling the paper bills at the 79-year-old, he shouted “This is for North Korea 2026” — a reference to the year of the next available World Cup hosting opportunity.
“Cheers, Sepp, it’s all there,” he yelled.
Blatter, who in a panicky voice had called for security while the ‘money’ rained on him, left the auditorium for 10 minutes while staff cleaned up the paper money before returning to speak to media.
“This has nothing to do with football,” he said before leaving.
On his return Blatter said: “I just called my late mother and she said, `Don’t worry, it’s just a lack of education’,” he said.
FIFA’s has been engulfed by a series of corruption scandals and 14 soccer officials and sports marketing executives were indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on various charges including fraud and money laundering.
There have also been allegations of bribery linked to several World Cup bidding processes.
Nelson has been involved in similar pranks in the past, including going on stage with rapper Kanye West at the Glastonbury Festival and, in 2014, attempting to infiltrate the England World Cup squad as they flew to the United States.
editing by Justin Palmer