Mark Steel: The genius that is Sepp Blatter has even managed to turn the Brazilian people off football
Next up, it’ll be the Martians...
Commentator and stand-up comedian Mark Steel has presented several radio and television programmes, and appeared on Have I Got News for You and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. In 2006 he published 'Vive La Revolution: A Stand-up History of the French Revolution', and in 2000 stood as a candidate in the London Assembly elections.
Thursday 12 June 2014
Even if you have no interest in football, and have never watched a single game before now, this is the time to accept that all of us, including you, should hate Sepp Blatter.
Partly this is because recent investigations that have taken years to compile show that he’s repulsive. He may have responded with a statement that “I completely deny I am in any way repulsive”, but the evidence is overwhelming, with further reports set to disclose staggering global levels of repulsion he can’t ignore.
If you do enjoy football this is devastating, because the World Cup should be a glorious month of thrilling frivolity, but instead he’ll be there, spoiling it with his difficult-to-ignore repulsiveness, like if you were at a wonderful barbecue on a scorching summer’s day but it turned out that Robert Mugabe was serving the sausages.
Most obvious is the filth that’s led to the 2022 World Cup being handed to Qatar, the most magnificently ill-equipped nation to hold a football tournament, a decision as sensible as if Blatter announced “It will be held on the side of a mountain in the Himalayas. One goal will be at the summit and the other at the bottom of an inaccessible ravine crawling with deadly snakes, which will encourage teams to break quickly out of defence.”
It will be barely possible to watch the games, let alone play them in Qatar’s heat, but Blatter will declare it a success, and congratulate the winners, a Bedouin tribe whose team is a herd of camels, beating Italy in the final whose players melt and are drunk by thirsty scorpions.
The decision is now so tainted with allegations of bribery that most of the main sponsors are making anxious noises, including Coca-Cola. So Sepp Blatter’s achievement is to make the likes of Coca-Cola go “Oh dear, that’s TOO capitalist”, an accomplishment as impressive as making Abu Hamza say “Steady on, I don’t like Allah THAT much.”
But for Blatter it was only a start, as he’s now accused the investigators who allege bribery of “racism”. At least he’s willing to change his mind, as three years ago he insisted there was “No racism in football.” Because when a crowd makes monkey noises at black players, you have to search for the subtle racist subtext, but when someone says “hang on, a chap who voted for a football tournament to be held in a desert seems to have been given three million quid by the people who own the desert. I wonder if there’s a connection?” – racism is the only explanation for such an enquiry.
With similar genius Blatter has created a World Cup in Brazil so costly and authoritarian that most Brazilians seem ambivalent about it, and hundreds of thousands have demonstrated against it. Consider the splendour of this, he’s made Brazilians oppose a World Cup in Brazil.
This is quite a talent he’s got. If he was in charge of road-building he’d end up with Jeremy Clarkson in a tree protesting about too many cars on the road.
Partly the discontent stems from the cost of the tournament, but there’s also a sense of betrayal that the game’s been robbed from the people and handed to Blatter and his mates. He insisted Brazil rebuilt the stadiums, including the famous Maracana in Rio, now run by US firm AEG, to make them “Fifa standard”, so the Maracana is now described by almost every writer in Brazil as “soulless”.
The theory seems to have been “We should hold the World Cup in Brazil, as football has a marvellous people’s atmosphere there. The only problem is the people, who are a grubby looking bunch of peasants so we’ll clear them out and enjoy the matches properly.”
Indigenous people of Brazil have been moved away from areas outside the stadiums, and tear-gassed by police when they protested. We’ll probably find out the government has held auditions to select who can go to the matches, with someone from a model agency yelling “Pout darling, that’s lovely, now scream ‘HANDBALL ref you blind twat’ for me, but keep a straight back lovey, that’s gorgeous, OK we’ll let you know.”
Blatter’s General Secretary Jerome Valcke explained modern football tactics most thoroughly, when he said he enjoyed working with Vladimir Putin, but “working with democratically elected governments can complicate organizing tournaments”.
You can understand why executives from Fifa find democracy frustrating, because they might have friends who have to pay a fortune to rig a vote.
Luckily Sepp Blatter set up a group he calls his “Council of Wisdom”, to advise on international matters, and prominent in this council is Henry Kissinger, who once displayed the wisdom of secretly carpet-bombing Cambodia.
Maybe Sepp could liven up matches that are too defensive by installing Henry to manage one of the teams, so we can hear the commentator say “And Ghana’s substitute has come off the bench and napalmed the entire Portuguese midfield. Well, as we all know, the thing with Kissinger is you just can’t give him that much space.”
Now Blatter has announced “There is no reason why our game couldn’t be played one day on other planets”, so the Sunday Times should investigate whether one of Saturn’s moons has been recently transferred to a minor football official’s account, as then we’ll know Saturn is soon to be announced as the venue for the inaugural Galaxy Cup.
The World Cup always provides spectacularly memorable drama, anticipation, tension, emotion and life-affirmingly heart-stopping pointlessness. It always requires putting to the back of your mind the sordid business and politics behind it, but Blatter has attained such squalid heights of repulsitude he’s made it harder than ever, so it’s only right all reasonable people should hate him for that.
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