As with so many things in life, I am presently engulfed with requests, by post and by telephone, by Twitter and Facebook to make some sort of statement about the financial scandals presently besetting our national game. Of course, the Twitter and Facebook elements are dealt with by Mrs Hatchett and my secretarial staff, but I do try to respond personally whenever I can, especially to grammatically correct letters.
I have stated many times that my first love is cricket – no stranger itself to corruption at an international level – but still imbued with a sense of fair play on village greens throughout our similarly green and pleasant land, I think.
Football, with its crude chanting and essentially tribal nature has never attracted me although I do understand that it is loved by many millions of ordinary folk. Vive la difference! Not everybody likes brass rubbing.
So you might imagine my dismay upon discovering, with the help of the young man with wire in his ear, via his electronic tablet that football’s world governing body FIFA is shot through with bribery and corruption. Mr Blatter seems to be a pleasant grandfatherly figure, but the young man with the wire in his ear tells me that he is in fact, “one swindling, dishonest ***tard.” He immediately apologized for his linguistic slip, but went on to applaud the decision of the United States of America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation to prosecute several high ranking FIFA officials. I am persuaded of the veracity of these prosecutions not least by the appearance of the FBI agents involved – all clean-cut soberly attired men and women who are so obviously upstanding and honest. Worryingly, FIFA officials also wear suits.
I did ask for the young man with the wire in his ear’s opinion of this scandal, especially the role of Americans in investigating what is usually regarded as a European sport. His answer, that it was to deflect world attention away from US drone strikes, collateral damage, Palestine, Iran, Ukraine and ISIS, was depressing.
So, dear reader, you catch me at a time of indecision. Do I go on record with a strongly worded statement of disapproval or instead, words of forgiveness? What would Jesus have done? Bearing in mind Our Lord’s reaction to moneylenders in the Temple, namely His pitching them out into the street, I doubt that He would have much time for Mr Blatter and his associates. Unofficially, I have it from the young man with the wire in his ear, via his similarly equipped American colleagues, that they, the Americans are going to “lock the ***gers up” Again, I chided his use of swear words, but find myself agreeing with him. I bring to mind the words of Saint Brian in his Letters to the Linoleums (Lino. 3.23)… "And if thou stickest thy head even above the parapet and nicketh someone else’s dosh, the wrath of God will surely descend upon you, even as a ton of bricks.”
And of course, alongside all of that is the monetary crisis in Greece and the possibility of that country being drummed out of the Eurozone. So often my window on the world, the young man with the wire in his ear tells me that the Greeks have only themselves to blame because, “they didn’t pay their ***ding taxes." . Personally, I think Greece seems a very pleasant country – my lady wife is especially fond of something called retsina – and the Greeks have retained some very interesting cross-dressing presidential guards. It would be a pity to lose all that to German conformity.