Finals Day

This is another prewritten post, so I don’t know who is challenging for the 2018 World Cup. In fact, at this stage (the tournament kicks off in about 3 hours), even Google is unaware:

And you know that if Google doesn’t know, then neither does anyone else.

8 years ago, it was the final of the World Cup in South Africa. And, while it wasn’t held in Cape Town, I still think a quota photo of the stadium is somehow appropriate. After all, one of the semi-finals (I believe there’s one of them happening today?) was held here:

I actually took this in December 2009 – on the night of the draw for the World Cup in South Africa, after a busy night on Long Street.

Memories…

Fikile – u ok hon?

Here’s a statement by our erstwhile Sports Minister, Fikile Mbalula over the weekend:

fm statement

and here’s a letter which has popped into the public domain this morning:

fifa letter

Of course, even though the $10 million payment was made to Jack Warner, it wasn’t a bribe, in the same way that that body of water at Nkandla isn’t meant for any purpose other than fighting fires.

And if it was a bribe, why would they have made that huge PR effort and the big song and dance about such a generous donation to such a worthy cause?

Nah, this totally seems legit.

Comedy moments

Today in politics:

Firstly, Sports Minister Fikile “Fickle” Mbalula (see blog passim) reacted to the FIFAgate scandal and the allegation that the SA Government had paid a $10m bribe to bring the 2010 World Cup to South Africa, with this gem:

David Smith on Twitter Mbalula As a nation we will be the first to endorse the fight against corruption wherever it is found. Media is casting aspersions. - Google Chrome 2015-05-28 014812 PM.bmp

Yep. No corruption in this nation. Absolutely not. None.
Here are some other ridiculous things he said, helpfully illustrated by high class rag The Times.

Glad we’ve got that sorted.

Then, Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko told us that the R250m upgrades to the President’s residence in KZN were necessary for security purposes and therefore, JZ doesn’t have to pay for them.

CGFpkGnUMAAOBOF

You might think that this is fair enough, but let’s just see how much they had to stretch to get some of the less obvious “security” upgrades into the “security upgrade” bracket:

nkand

And good job too, because those chickens could obviously pose a definite danger to Number 1. And in the event of an emergency, where else are you going to be able to assemble if not in an amphitheatre?

It does rather make you think that they’re taking the piss now. I mean, the signs that they’ve been taking the piss have been there for a while, but we definitely do seem to have crossed yet another line of pisstakery with today’s events.

Quoth Tom Eaton (in a post/column written (I think) ahead of the FIFA or Nkandla developments mentioned above):

They know we’re watching, but they don’t care. We’re just scenery to them now, a fleeting impression to be remembered one day when they’re lying on their private beach, laughing about the old days when they were making their pile.

Yes.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get off home to build an animal enclosure next to the firepool to stop the beagle crapping in my amphitheatre.

Remember 2010…?

With the World Cup “kicking off” in Brazil this evening, everyone is going all misty-eyed over those Halcyon days in 2010 when we enjoyed Philip’s visit here. I’ve chosen to mark my memories with a photo of a free kick from the worst game I think I’ve seen since moving to South Africa – England’s bore draw with Algeria at Cape Town Stadium.

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England’s chances this year seem slim (not like in 2010, when they had a superb qualifying campaign), but perhaps because of that, they find themselves free of the weight of expectation. Or rather they did.
Up until about two weeks ago, everyone back in Blighty had completely accepted that this wasn’t a tournament in which England were going to go far; expectation – traditionally an albatross around the teams’ collective necks – was at an all time low and that was a Good Thing.
Sadly, about a fortnight back, someone in the papers noticed this and remarked on it, probably saying something along the lines of:

Without the fans’ expectations on their minds, England could actually do quite well in Brazil.

This in itself, raised expectations and thus was a self-defeating prophecy. But then again, maybe if people see that the low expectations of success have raised the expectations of success, and that that approach will, in turn, increase the pressure on the team and thus lower the expectation that they will do well, maybe they will do well.

Not that I want to raise expectations of that.

The other thing that has made the British press is the state of some of the stadiums going into the tournament, most specifically Manaus, where England play Italy on Saturday. Now, we saw some scare stories from hysterical journalists all over South Africa 2010, but it does seem that we were a whole lot better prepared than Brazil is:

Carlos Botella, head groundsman for the Royal Verd company which is responsible for the turf at Manaus and six other World Cup stadiums, has conceded that the game on Saturday, which will take place in severe heat and humidity, will be played out on a desperately inadequate surface.
“Frankly, Manaus is in bad shape,” Botella told the Associated Press. “We’ve started to implement an emergency plan to try to save the field and improve it as much as possible, but I don’t think it’ll be in good condition by the weekend.”

No worries, Carlos. You’ve only had several years to prepare, so yes, get that emergency plan into operation 72 hours ahead of the first game. We’d been playing football and rugby in our stadiums 4 months before the 2010 World Cup got started.

Worryingly, while I’m looking forward to having some footy back on the TV, I’m rather unexcited about the whole World Cup. Maybe it’s the time difference. Maybe it’s the fact that last time around was Just So Good.
I just hope that I can get into it soon. I’d hate to not enjoy the whole 4 weeks.

Almost fooled…

Incoming from my brother back in Sheffield, playing on my mounting anticipation of upcoming events in Brazil:

All right bruv, are you free later in June? You’ll never believe it but I’ve just won an all-expenses paid trip to the World Cup Finals on Talk Sport. It’s for me and 3 mates: 3 weeks all inclusive in Brazil with £2000 spending money. Flights leave from Gatwick, June 10, so if you’re free, could you put my bins out for me?

Git. 🙂

Feel free to cut and paste to annoy your mates. I’m pretty sure that’s what he did…