Knie: On the circus and football
© FIFA.com

Rolf Knie is a highly-talented performer and artist in a number of different disciplines. Renowned in Switzerland as a painter and actor, Knie founded the famous Circus Salto Natale with his son Gregory in 2002, and has since worked there as both producer and director, transforming his vision of ‘a different kind of circus’ into a reality. He is a former footballer too, and visited Home of FIFA in Zurich on Monday 11 January 2010 for a meeting with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. The versatile artist spoke to FIFA.com afterwards.

What brings you to Home of FIFA today?
I’ve been visiting my old friend Sepp Blatter. I really have to pay him a huge compliment. Far too few people around the world appreciate what Mr Blatter has done for FIFA. And I’m very positively surprised by Home of FIFA; the building encapsulates the spirit of FIFA and of football.

What do the circus and football have in common?
They both offer a spectacle, they both spread happiness and bring together people of different religions, skin colours and social classes. And you get the same kind of crowd; not elitist. Just like the circus, football isn’t subsidised by the state, both have to stand on their own two feet. Sepp Blatter and I are very, very similar actually. As a circus director, I occasionally have to make unpopular and difficult decisions, because someone has to make sure the ship stays on course. On top of all that, both he and I have to think creatively.

They both offer a spectacle, they both spread happiness and bring together people of different religions, skin colours and social classes.
Rolf Knie on the circus and football.

You were a footballer yourself. What role does the game play in your life?
I played for FC Zurich and made it as far as the Swiss junior national teams. I’ve always been passionate about football. It’s a fine school for later life.

Will you be following the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™?
I’ll be in front of the TV, watching the matches with enormous interest. I get so nervous when Switzerland are playing, I have to go out into the garden for a run around.

How do you think the Swiss will get on in South Africa?
It’ll be very difficult, but I reckon we have a better than 50 per cent chance of making it out of our group. You should never underestimate Chile, and you always need a bit of luck at the World Cup finals anyway – which isn’t something you can train for.