To the untrained eye, FIFA has had a very bad week. Nine officials past and present arrested. Allegations of bribery, corruption, money laundering and all-round dodginess spanning decades. A persistent stench about the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
But according to FIFA’s Communications Director Walter de Gregorio, everything is awesome.
“This for FIFA is good,” he told the media, perfectly deadpan.
I know, I couldn’t believe it either. But here’s the clip.
While US authorities describe the scandal as the ‘World Cup of fraud’, de Gregorio would have us believe FIFA President Sepp Blatter ain’t bovvered.
“He’s not dancing in his office,” he concedes, which is a relief because Sepp doesn’t dance well.
“He is just very calm,” says Walter.
Maybe Walter’s real last name is Mitty. Maybe he’s trying out his routine for a post-FIFA career in comedy. Or maybe he’s trying to emulate this guy.
At any rate, it’s a circus. And the Ringmaster is up for re-election later tonight. That he even stands a chance of securing a fifth term tells you just how dysfunctional FIFA has become.
The Ringmaster says it’s not his fault. “I cannot monitor everyone all the time,” he says. He wants to stay on to fight all the corruption. Walter’s not the only one with a future in stand-up.
Meanwhile, the England and Wales Cricket Board must be pleased there’s another governing body in deeper poo than it is. It had its own new scandal this week and it can be summed up in two words: cable knit.
In its first Test against New Zealand, which the hosts did their level best to lose, England unveiled its new jumper and the nation duly choked on its Twinings.
Former fast bowler Bob Willis turned fashion critic, declaring: “That sweater looks as though it’s been knitted by a grandmother who had too much sherry halfway through and lost her cable stitch and switched to something else.”
OK, it’s a bit nancy boy. It doesn’t have the rugged, manly quality of the sweaters of yesteryear. Beefy Botham probably wouldn’t be caught dead in it.
But there are bigger things for the Poms to worry about. Like why, of the 53 million people in England, not one of them apparently is good enough to coach the national cricket team.
Instead, the ECB made its selection from four Aussies, with Trevor Bayliss getting the final nod ahead of the looming Ashes series. Hey, if you can beat ’em, pinch their coaches. It worked at the Olympics.
Here’s one Aussie we’d happily give away though. Over to you, James O’Connor.
Over in France, rising Aussie tennis star Nick Kyrgios set tongues wagging when he dismissed suggestions athletes should abstain from sex before big games.
“I don’t abide by that at all,” he said.
Sporting a new Shaun the Sheep hairstyle, Kyrgios said that what happens on tour usually doesn’t stay on tour. “That’s why I don’t mess with any tennis chicks,” he said.
Kyrgios was looking every inch the sex symbol in the first round of the French Open, playing with a nose bleed and a wad of cotton wool shoved up his left nostril.
Also in France, the Monaco Grand Prix decided to go down the equal rights route, replacing its grid girls with male models.
Former world champ Sebastian Vettel went bananas. “What was that?” he asked. “You get there and park behind George or Dave, what’s the point? I’ll speak with Bernie (Ecclestone) about it.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff went further. “We are used to seeing beautiful women next to the cars on the grid, so this was unexpected,” he said. “I have nothing against the good-looking guys, but in my opinion what we had before was not discriminatory.”
Totally get where you’re coming from, Toto.
Finally, we leave you with this Chinese goalie, who picked the wrong time to take a drink break. And copped a $10,000 fine for his troubles.
But hey, it’s not the worst thing going on in soccer right now.