Monday, November 30, 2009

An unintended encounter with Joseph Sepp Blatter

I was innocently sitting chatting to a long lost friend in the Sandton Convention Centre today, when there was a sudden and unexplained media scurry. I knew it was a media scurry, because everyone was fighting each other, using very large shoulder carried cameras as weapons. Behind them were hapless people holding furry things on poles. They were all pointing them, seemingly, into an empty circle which a burly group of bodyguards had made.

It was rough stuff. Elbows jabbed. Bodies were used as battering rams. Pencils were lunged into the spines of people in the front row. But I, for one, had no idea what the fuss was about. So I decided to join the throng. It was about thirty paces away that I managed to see the object of everyone’s interest. Why, it was Joseph Sepp Blatter himself!

It immediately brought back to me the Gospel story about Zaccheus, the tax collector, who climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus. The ambiguity in the text is in the reason which is given as “because he was a little man”. The question of course, is who was the little man? Zaccheus or Jesus?

In the case of Sepp Blatter – it was Sepp Blatter. He is a little man. “Short”, is the word which comes immediately to mind. And he has a continuous smile playing about his lips – the kind of smile children produce when they have done a poo. Sepp Blatter is pleased with things. He is pleased with FIFA. He is pleased with “Johennesborg” and he is pleased with “Sous Afrika”. He is pleased with Soccerex. He is pleased with progress in the stadia. He is pleased with “Foootball” and he is pleased with “FuFusellaas”. I have no doubt he was also pleased with the throngs of dancing Zulus and the busloads of ululating women. Because he seems to be pleased with everything in sight.

I found myself wondering why Sepp Blatter’s hair never seems to grow, or his hairstyle change. I wondered why, after 35 years of work in “Fooootball”, he was still wanting to be reappointed for yet another term. Meanwhile, I heard people around me discussing in animated terms, his “legacy” – being, apparently that he brought the World Cup to Africa and took it back to Latin America.

I looked at the throngs crowing around him. I watched the vastly overweight women, whom I later discovered were local councillors, clattering about on shoes which really should not have been punished to the extent that they were, on heels far too high. They were guiding him around. Pointing out this to him, and that to him.

His comment on seeing the Cape Town stand was something like – “Ah - Cape Town”. And then he nodded and smiled that just-done-a-poo smile of his. He looked pleased again. And the media scurry moved on to something else for the tottering councillors to point out to him.

All I can say – all I can really say, is that it is a bloody strange world we live in. Nations may rise and fall. World poverty may be on the increase. Disease, drought and flood is taking whole swathes of our continent – but FIFA, it seems to me, will stand forever.

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