ITV's new boss, Adam Crozier, has already notched up a notable achievement in his first few weeks in the hot seat: he's having an even worse World Cup than Raymond Domenech, the hated French coach.
First, the broadcaster repeated its trick of showing an advert instead of crucial live action (this time, England's goal against the USA). And then it was forced to sack its summariser, Robbie Earle, after his complimentary tickets ended up in the clutches of a bevy of scantily clad dolly birds working for a Dutch beer company running an ambush marketing stunt. Ambush marketing – where brands not sponsoring an event benefit from publicity around a venue – is illegal in South Africa, but Crozier knows all about how it irritates sponsors, who have paid heavily for prime advertising. During Crozier's time as chief exec of the English FA, he negotiated that the FA Cup Final be played in Cardiff – and demanded that the council ensured that companies not associated with the match could not advertise on local authority property. The rigid stance caused a few raised eyebrows, prompting Crozier to observe: "The talks did encounter various difficulties." Who'd have thought it?
Nothing like Dames for SA electricity
Might there be a mass power cut at the World Cup, I wonder, as Eskom, South Africa's state-owned electricity utility, which produces 95 per cent of its power, lurches from crisis to crisis. Hotels contain notices informing guests that "Eskom [is] carrying out planned power outages across the country" while pleading for assistance with the "energy crisis" by asking fans not to "fill up the kettle for one cup of tea". Furthermore, after an eight-month search, Eskom finally has a new chief exec, handing Brian Dames the biggest hospital pass of the tournament.
Dames's first tasks are to try to dissuade staff from striking during the World Cup (they want more money) and plugging a R115bn (£10.3bn) funding gap – but his first words on taking the job were: "Now I'm going to enjoy the soccer and make sure the World Cup is successful." Quite. Last weekend, Bangladesh, a country which has never qualified for the tournament, suffered a power cut as fans prepared to watch Argen-tina v Nigeria, provoking a mass riot.
Charities denied banned snacks
World Cup sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Budweiser and McDonald's take their rights very seriously. Fans turning up to games carrying "unauthorised" snacks find them confiscated. So what happens to the mound of treats? "Donated to charity," says a security guard. Oh, really? The SA daily, The Herald, contacted numerous local charities, only to draw a blank.
A chink in Visa's blanket coverage
Despite heavy marketing by Fifa's partners, much of the land is delightfully off-message when it comes to approved brands. Unless you are able to pay cash, Fifa will only accept Visa cards for tickets and merchandise, but just try using one of the cards at the BP garage on the N3 toll road just outside Durban. "We do not take that type of card here, sir," explains the attendant politely. "Do you have cash?" Visa's long-running slogan? "Everywhere".