Sport on TV: Sepp Blatter has got a lot of cheek but don't scoff, so has Ronaldo
Sunday 08 December 2013
One can only imagine what a meeting between Nelson Mandela and Fifa president Sepp Blatter would have been like. "I was struck by the stature of the man, he seemed to fill the room. It was as if he could change the world by the sheer force of his will," Mandela would have said.
At the start of the World Cup draw (BBC2, Friday), he called on the assembled dignitaries – and Greg Dyke – to observe a minute's silence to mark the passing of the great man. Only Blatter could have interrupted that minute after only 20 seconds.
"Now applaud!" he suddenly told his minions, who ignored him to start with. Presumably they were still being silent. But anyone who is repeatedly elected unopposed to the presidency of an autonomous global money-spinner is bound to have a different concept of the passage of time from the rest of us.
Blatter can be tight-lipped sometimes, for example when it comes to the reputations of corrupt officials inside his organisation or when people die building his stadiums. He doesn't like those who kick up a stink.
In the webcast that preceded the BBC2 coverage, Jonathan Pierce was keen to wade through the Fifa slurry as it piled higher and higher. "A country of great vibrancy," he noted after all the usual images of Brazilian fun and frolics, but added: "It's fair to say a country of great social problems too." It may in fact be difficult to tell sometimes; they seem to party so hard that it may in fact be a riot in progress.
By the time Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff was gushing about her country next to a beaming Sepp, Pierce had still not been removed from the auditorium. Perhaps he was still in England. "A country where all your dreams can come true," she said. Blatter beamed. "Not for everyone," Pierce added. Maybe the Beeb booked him into a hotel in a dodgy neighbourhood – in Salford. It's pretty gloomy there these days. Ask David Moyes.
But this is Brazil, in fact, and we may as well try to enjoy ourselves. It was time to show us the Brazucas, and the gorgeous model Fernanda Lima had a couple on display. This is the new World Cup ball, and she ushered in the former striker Ronaldo to, well, jiggle them around a bit.
He's not what he used to be – actually, he's a whole lot more than he used to be. The 86-year-old former Uruguay striker Alcides Ghiggia could have beaten him in a sprint across the stage. Obviously the man with the teeth has been using them to good effect, and it looked as if he had shoved one of the balls inside his suit jacked – and maybe a couple into his cheeks too.
As "King Pele" made his way to the microphone, Pierce said the likes of Ronaldo and other Brazilian greats could "eat your hearts out" and for one awful moment you thought Ronnie might do just that.
Then Roy Hodgson was, rather strangely, asked before the draw which opponents he would choose if it were a box of chocolates. The England boss said, just as enigmatically: "The coffee cream and the caramel will suit me just fine." He wasn't giving much away, but at least that meant Ronaldo could scoff the rest of the box.
* England's cricketers would be glad to find some dark rooms to sit in right now – not least to hide from Mitchell Johnson. But in I'm a celebrity... Get me out of here! (ITV1) Rebecca Adlington was mightily relieved to be kicked out of the jungle. She has since admitted she gets anxiety attacks when she is put in confined spaces, which meant she was granted exemptions from those bushtucker trials with all the creepy crawlies and whatnots.
Which begs the question of why she chose to take part in the first place. She must have known what was coming. The former swimmer may be seeking a new career but you wouldn't enter the 400m individual medley if you couldn't swim.
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