Fifa stunt: Comedian Simon Brodkin on Sepp Blatter prank

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport
UK prankster Simon Brodkin was behind the protest at the news conference

British comedian Simon Brodkin says he is waiting to hear whether he will face charges over his headline-grabbing prank with Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

Brodkin was arrested by Swiss police in July when he showered Blatter with money at a news conference.

"Think about the irony of me being the first person to be prosecuted for things that have happened at Fifa headquarters," he told BBC Sport.

Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation against Blatter.

The attorney general's office said on Friday he was suspected of criminal mismanagement or misappropriation over a TV rights deal and of a "disloyal payment" to European football chief Michel Platini.

Brodkin's Blatter stunt was shown around the world and was used again in the latest coverage of the scandal engulfing Fifa, world football's governing body.

He describes how the prank came about, an exchange with Blatter, the police reaction, and also talks about almost boarding England's plane en route to the 2014 World Cup and interrupting rapper Kanye West's Glastonbury set.

Simon Brodkin
Brodkin's previous pranks include almost boarding England's plane en route to the 2014 World Cup

'Fun - with a slight shadow of prison'

Contrary to reports, Brodkin said he did not use fake money but bought $500.

"They gave me back every single dollar. So if there's anyone in this tale, the police aren't corrupt. They treated me well and had a good sense of humour about it all," he recalled.

"It was all real - 500 was the best my budget could stretch to. Unfortunately, I don't have the Fifa-style sponsorship from Coca-Cola, which would have been nice.

"A museum in America wanted one of the dollars I used, but it's not found its way there as I'm funding these stunts. It's a thing I enjoy doing, but I'm paying for them.

"It was a good day out in Switzerland and there's been a lot of warmth from many parts of the world coming my way, which has been enjoyable."

However, he still faces the possibility of being charged with trespass.

"It's been slightly soured occasionally by the odd legal email winging its way to me from the Swiss authorities looking like they are going to press charges. Basically fun, with a slight overshadowing of prison.

"They are battling it out in some prosecutor's office in Switzerland to see what the final outcome is. I think it's sense of humour versus common sense versus Sepp's power.

"I probably shouldn't have been at Fifa and I'm not exactly sure of the details of Swiss law. I don't know what happens when you chuck a load of money at someone like Sepp but hopefully they will laugh it off."

Brodkin performs as a number of characters, including Lee Nelson
Brodkin performs as a number of characters, including Lee Nelson

How did the prank come about?

"I will just see something, I guess much like when I write a joke for stand-up, it's a similar process," said Brodkin, who is best known for his character Lee Nelson.

While reluctant to reveal exact details of how he is able to trick his way past security, the comedian said he gets a buzz out of playing pranks.

In July he entered the Fifa news conference as another character, Jason Bent - a footballer from Merseyside.

"I managed to go in, saying that I'm working with Kim Jong-Un and that the World Cup 2026 hopefully would be secured in its rightful place of North Korea," he said.

"I know some people spend 500 quid in a casino. I spent my 500 quid throwing it at Sepp.

"I'm sure I'm slightly wired up incorrectly but I probably get more nervous making small talk at a wedding than doing some of these stunts. It's enjoyable and a little bit nerve-wracking. That's how I get my kicks."

On the terraces to on the pitch
In the guise of his character Jason Bent, Brodkin duped security and limbered up alongside players from Manchester City before a game at Everton in 2013.
"I'm now called a glory supporter, but it's been many years coming to get a dirty look for supporting Man City," he said.
"My Dad is from Manchester and he supported City all his life and you follow in your father's foorsteps, which led me to many years of misery of season ticket holding, and being on the Kippax (stand) in sleet as we drew 0-0 against Sheffield United."

'A few words were spoken with Sepp'

As Brodkin was escorted out of the news conference, there was a slightly surreal conversation with Blatter himself.

"I got taken out then Sepp got removed for them to clear everything up and restart. There we were outside the press conference room, both of us together," he said.

"A few words were spoken outside. I'm not going to say what they were because of the ongoing criminal investigation. One day I'll reveal the conversation exchange.

"It felt like we'd both had a fight, and I was the one who started it, but we'd both been kicked out of the classroom.

"I was taken into the bowels of Fifa headquarters, which is a little bit like a 007 lair - it's an incredible building of marble and glass and elevators. I have no idea how they are able to afford it."

Handcuffed and taken to the police station

"I'm a massive football fan myself. I don't have hatred for world football, far from it," said Brodkin, a Manchester City fan since childhood.

"I was trying to raise some smiles and I think security soon realised I'm not a threat and it was clear they all found it pretty funny."

A woman collects the banknotes at Fifa headquarters
A woman collects the banknotes at Fifa headquarters

However, he said the situation became less relaxed when a Fifa security official came in and said: "It is not appropriate to socialise with this gentleman."

He was then handcuffed by armed police, taken to Zurich Central Police Station and had to sit in a cell for several hours.

"They do the whole job on you. They take away anything you can harm yourself with and you get the whole criminal treatment," he said.

"I had an inkling that the police were very much on my side and found the thing amusing when one of them came in and said 'I need you to breathalyse this please'. He takes a look at the reading and says: 'Oh my goodness me you are eight times over the limit.'

"I hadn't drunk a thing obviously. I looked at him pale-faced and he goes 'only joking, it's a normal reading' with a big smile on his face and closes the cell door shut again."

Brodkin said another police officer told him his stunt had made the headlines.

"He beckoned me into his office, turned on his laptop and showed me the main headlines in their main newspaper. He shook my hand, said farewell and I walked back onto the streets of Switzerland," he said.

'I was aware the stunt had some impact''

Brodkin said he saw his stunt on television when he returned home, and had enjoyed a largely positive reaction.

"When I got off the plane at Heathrow. I got several pats on the back at the airport from British holidaymakers saying 'nice one, well done' so I knew it had an impact," he said.

But presumably not everyone is a fan of his escapades.

"I'm sure I wouldn't have to go looking that far online, but to my face it's all love," he added.

"You can't please all of the people all of the time, especially with practical jokes. Comedy divides opinions."

Mixing it with Steven Gerrard and the England team

Brodkin, again in the character of Bent, somehow tricked his way into joining the England squad - including captain Steven Gerrard and manager Roy Hodgson - on the tarmac as they prepared to fly to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.

"I went along in the team suit, which I managed to get from Marks and Spencer the day before," he said.

"These stunts are only funny if people notice you're there and I was there, just blending in. There's so many backroom staff and the squad's pretty big, that no-one was noticing.

"So I had to kick up a fuss and was like 'Stevie, what's going on. Tell Roy I'm here. Am I in the squad or not? I've learned the national anthem. I'm ready, mate.' I had to almost report myself for being there.

"People have sent me photos and you can clearly see a lot of the squad have grins on their faces as they realise it's a pretty funny situation."

Simon Brodkin and Kayne West
Brodkin joined Kayne West on stage at the Glastonbury Festival in June

On stage with "miserable" Kanye West

Rapper Kanye West was less impressed when Brodkin, as Lee Nelson complete with a £8.99 toy microphone bought from Argos, unexpectedly joined him on stage at this summer's Glastonbury Festival.

"He was miserable. When I joined him on stage I was expecting a whole big backing band as I hadn't seen anything of what he was doing as I was behind the stage trying to get on," he remembered.

"I'm pretty much a one-man band. I bounce ideas off people but it was just me back there at Glastonbury a few hours before trying to buy a load of clothes that make me look like a rapper."

So what next? Another football prank?

"There's always stuff kicking around my head, but right now I'm doing the Lee Nelson 'Suited and Booted' tour and then we'll see," he added.

"At Glastonbury it was case of seeing a gap in the fence and wondering if I could keep going. You give it a go and see where you get."

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