On 17 May 2004, FIFA President Joseph S. "Sepp" Blatter was knighted as a member of the French Légion d'Honneur by French President Jacques Chirac in a ceremony held at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
Blatter was born in Visp, Switzerland in 1936. He began working for FIFA in 1975 as Technical Director. In 1981, he became the organization's General Secretary and then, in 1998, its President. He initiated several changes to football, including the elimination of the "golden goal" rule, in which a match ends immediately upon the first goal scored in extra time, in favor of the "silver goal" rule, in which the match ends at the first half of the extra time period if one team is ahead and, if tied, continues to the end of the second half of extra time. Also, after the 2002 World Cup, he eliminated automatic World Cup qualification for the defending champion.
Blatter has also drawn his share of criticism for making controversial statements, including the suggestion in 2004 that women footballers should wear "tighter shorts" and his 2008 accusation that Manchester United was engaging in "modern slavery" by blocking Cristiano Ronaldo's transfer to Real Madrid.
The Légion d'Honneur was created by Napoleon Bonaparte to reward military achievements and other forms of service to France.