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Norwegian FA Official Who Called Sepp Blatter “A Role Model” Given Key Role In Reforming FIFA

Kjetil Siem has passionately defended Blatter in the past, and has also been caught up in an expenses transparency row in Norway.

Kjetil Siem, a Norwegian FA official who two years ago hailed Sepp Blatter as "a role model", has been hired as FIFA's new head of strategy. It is a newly created position in the organisation's hierarchy, and will give him a key role in overseeing reform.

Having previously headed the Premier Soccer League in South Africa, Siem has spent the last four years as secretary general of Norway's Football Association. He is credited with introducing the "Handshake For Peace" project in his home country, an initiative that makes it obligatory for team captains to shake hands at the final whistle. It was adopted by Sepp Blatter in December 2013, who called it: "a strong message of solidarity and peace to the world."


Speaking to Dagbladet a month later, Siem said: "I'm sure no Norwegian has more respect than I do for the FIFA president Sepp Blatter. He is actually a role model."

After Blatter's resignation in June 2015, Siem defended the discredited former president. He said that Blatter deserved recognition for "what he has done for the development of football in the third world" and that he had "held the football family together."

Siem has recently been caught up in a transparency row in Norway, after resisting pressure to publicise FA officials' expenses. Having caved in recent weeks, the 55-year-old claimed he had only opposed previous calls for full disclosure because he did not want to reveal where he had travelled, and potentially damage commercial negotiations as a result.

"For me personally there's no advantage to showing my receipts," Siem told the Norwegian press. "They will show that there's a very good reason for them. Norwegian football has become very international."

He also told VG Sport that he would not be disclosing his salary at FIFA. "After what I've been through, I will not say anything about it," he stated. "I put together all my expenses and said yes to everything, but for two months I was hung on the gallows."

The current FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, has told the Norwegian FA: "I am very happy to have Kjetil Siem aboard. He has international experience and has shown the kind of qualities I need around me in my efforts to reform FIFA."