MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: An awful Sepp in the wrong direction

CHANCES ARE you still feel a bit queasy, a shade of green inching up around the gills this morning?

We don’t blame you. We’re not referring to Tiger and his texts – there’ll be plenty of time to discuss those in the future, hopefully a better time, a time when we’ll be able to keep our breakfasts down.

No, this week’s sporting-incident-most-likely-to-induce-dry-retching was Sepp Blatter and his giggling yet pompous, sniggering yet sneering, smirking and oily performance during the week at the Soccerex conference, where he ridiculed the FAI’s request to be invited to the World Cup in South Africa next year as the 33rd team.

For one thing, what’s wrong with having 33 teams at the World Cup? It’s no more ridiculous than, say, Sepp ‘Benny Hill’ Blatter’s one-time suggestion that ladies soccer players should wear tighter shorts to “create a more female aesthetic”.

For another, it was an outrageous breach of confidentiality. The FAI were correct to point out that they understood their discussions with FIFA were to remain in secret.

Above all, it was a display of putrid bullying unworthy of a primary school playground, holding the FAI up to ridicule when they’re trying to find a way out of a quagmire not of their making.

You have to have huge sympathy for the FAI here. Faced with a staggering mess thanks to the ineptitude of FIFA-appointed officials, if they hadn’t pursued the matter of a replay to the bitter end, they’d have been pilloried for rolling over in the face of FIFA’s decision not to grant a replay.

As they did pursue the matter to the bitter end, they certainly didn’t deserve Sepp Blatter’s nauseating performance on Tuesday, tee-heeing like a schoolchild and inviting everyone behind the bike shed to feast on a juicy secret.

If the preening coxcomb that is the head of FIFA had an ounce of common sense, he would have realised that in negotiations and discussions to resolve thorny problems all scenarios – no matter how unrealistic – must be entertained en route to a resolution. Thus the Irish suggestion that the boys in green would be a 33rd team, which no doubt was one of several options thrown onto the table for discussion.

As for the fact that the discussions were to remain secret... words fail us. Almost.

The subsequent Blatter apology holds no water for this columnist. The Swiss could find nothing better to do earlier in the week than offer his best impression of a catty extra in the Lindsay Lohan movie ‘Mean Girls’.

(On second thoughts, apologies to Lindsay for involving her in this, and scratch that comparison).

It’s not as if Sepp has blue skies overhead. He presides over an organisation which harbours such beauties as his vice-president, Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, whose son made huge profits on the sale of thousands of tickets for the 2006 World Cup.

Also, sharp-eyed readers may have noted recent reports of a wide-ranging match-fixing scam which stretches from China to Europe, a scam which saw 15 people arrested in Germany in recent weeks; authorities believe up to 200 people may be implicated and that more than €10 million is involved. Sepp didn’t have many jokes to make about that, even though it was due to be discussed at the same meeting which dealt with the Thierry Henry handball controversy.

Well, the great man was busy at Soccerex 2009 earlier this week. If you want a flavour of proceedings there, try this from the conference programme for last Monday, from 5pm to 6pm: “Bundesliga Happy Hour: Networking break with complimentary drinks, sponsored by the Bundesliga.”

Finally, it’s customary to ridicule Blatter at every opportunity for his past presidency of the World Society of Friends of Suspenders, an organisation devoted to ladies underwear.

On this particular occasion we’ll take the high moral ground, though. Sepp is well able to provide fresher material for ridicule.

* michael.moynihan@examiner.ie

twitter: MikeMoynihanEx


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