At around the same time as Baleka Mbete, the Speaker of the National Assembly, was struggling with recognition and telling the opposition, “You wish”, in Parliament yesterday, Jerome Valcke, secretary general of Fifa, was doing a damn fine impression of the ad hoc committee on Nkandla in Pretoria.
Valcke, in the country to mark four years of the World Cup Legacy programme, spoke on the findings regarding the bids of Qatar and Russia, insisting they were above board.
“Fifa didn’t clear Russia and Qatar, it was Ethics Committee, that’s important to note.”
Yes, but the Fifa’s Ethics Committee belongs to Fifa as much as the Nkandla ad hoc committee belonged to the ANC.
The outcome was pre-determined. The good news, someone sharp tweeted yesterday, is that Fifa have come to the conclusion that they are not, according to them, corrupt. The ANC have done the same thing.
Instead, it was the English, the staunchest critics of the bids of both countries in their media and parliament, who found the spotlight turned on them for cosying up to Jack Warner of Concacaf with promises and the odd, well-laundered bribe.
A backhander remains a backhander, no matter if it is to pay for a dinner or cash stuffed into a wallet. It is, though, a distraction tactic by Fifa, much like the previous regime of Cricket South Africa orchestrated against Gauteng Cricket when they dared challenge them over the running of the 2009 IPL.
“It must be made clear that President (Sepp) Blatter did not violate the FCE (Fifa Code of Ethics). The one concrete allegation against the President, concerning an account purportedly held in his name at a US bank, was demonstrably false,” announced Fifa.
“Mr Blatter has implemented a number of critical reforms, including those that made this inquiry possible. The bidding process established by Fifa was for the most part fair and thorough, although the executive committee’s obligations in that process\[morgan.bolton\] – including its members’ obligations to abide the same reporting requirements placed on the bid teams - ... should have been made more explicit.”
It wouldn’t seem out of place to insert “Zuma” for “Blatter” and “bidding process” for “Nkandla”.
Michael Garcia, who was appointed by Fifa to investigate the bidding race for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, has said that the report, written by a German judge who headed up the adjudicatory arm of the Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, has misrepresented his conclusions.
“(It) contains numerous, materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the Investigatory Chamber’s report. I intend to appeal this decision to the Fifa Appeal Committee.”
Under the big red tent near the start of the Momentum 94.7 Mountain Bike Challenge yesterday, a man took a picture of the front of his bike.
He didn’t quite like the angle of the handlebars, and turned them a shade to the right so that he could get in the race number attached to the front of the bars. He snapped, frowned, smiled, snapped and then showed the picture to his wife, who was flapping like a turtle in the bean bags in the tent.
In The Star’s sports department weekly planning meeting in the hallowed halls of the World of Beer in Newtown, a reoccurring debate goes about just how a newspaper should go about revisiting a match for our Monday readers. Some believe the immediacy of the interweb means that a match report is redundant.
They want a quotes piece, more analysis and looking ahead.
“Looking ahead” is a common phrase in newsrooms these days.
I’ve never truly understood what exactly it means, although I suspect it is a heady mixture of speculation, guesswork and a lot of looking backward to look forward. I always argue for a timeline of the big match on Saturday for Monday papers, recounting the detail of play.
The planet has developed a collective short-term memory because of the interweb, and, save for the score and the best try of the match, come Monday few could tell you exactly what happened. I rarely win the argument. One day I will. Hell, let’s start with today.
On Saturday, the Barbarians and the Wallabies played one of the most enjoyable games of rugby you could have wished to watch. It was rugby with a smile, a devil-may-care show of skill and enjoyment.
It was captured quite magnificently by the BaaBaas official Twitter feed (@Barbarian_FC), who made the game all that more delightful. The tweeter understood the power of short, sharp writing, had a good knowledge of the game and, most importantly, was witty.
Here, for those of you who didn’t get to see the match and for those of you who did and can’t quite remember all of it, is a timeline of one of the great games of the weekend.
“Briefing with the ref for the bigger lads to clarify how to legally crash into each other! #rugby #rugbyunited”
“Kick off. Show time. Great |atmosphere. Early observation - @QantasWallabies Will Skelton is colossal.Enourmous #rugby #rugbyunited #baabaas”
“First scrum leads to pen for Baabaas. Stevens leading charge. Loves a scrum almost as much as Graham Rowntree #rugby #rugbyunited #baabaas”
“NFL quarterback lineout throw. Boys have come to play! Good hustle #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
“Strong defence from #baabaas so far. Big first up hits. Parsons is marauding around clattering anything vaguely gold #rugby #rugbyunited”
“7 mins gone. 0-0 still. Match besieged between 10 metre lines. Wild west stand off. Who will blink first... #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
“Now we’re cooking. Classy dink from Slade to de Jongh then |backhanded offload from Thomson. Champagne stuff #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
“#baabaas held up over line. Penalty. Reverse chip on tap & go befuddled Wallabies. Agonising knock on. Ole ole ole #rugby #rugbyunited”
“Try! Offloads aplenty & a slalom finish from the Kiwi giant Frank Halai. Oosh. #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited #BARvAUS”
“#baabaas bubbling away like a post-hangover Berocca tablet. Nearly a try then Wallabies batter down left flank. Power #rugby #rugbyunited”\[michael.oakley\]l “Huge hits from both sides. Honey Badger with an interception then gang tackled. #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
“Wallaby defence intense. Flying into #baabaas like West End |bouncers handling a rowdy stag party. No prisoners #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
“Wallabies may have scored. Crowd say knock on in middle of move...TMO having a peak from his TV den #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
“Try given. Crowd not impressed. Cheerleaders are on. Crowd are now impressed.. 5-7 26mins #rugby #rugbyunited #baabaas”
Muscle memory. When all else fails, when there is despair running through your body, muscle memory will see you through. That’s what Garry Reed of the Cullinan Hotel told me before I rode the 106km of the Tsogo Sun Amashova from Pietermaritzburg to Durban yesterday. Muscle memory will see you right.
Typical. On the day the Dale Benkenstein announces he has decided to retire from all forms of cricket, bringing to an end a wonderful career by one of the quieter men in the sport, Kevin Pietersen brings out his book on cheese and the world forgets about the other South African in England.
Benkenstein has never been the loudest player. Quietly but strongly spoken, he was once being discussed as a possible future captain of South Africa. He may even have been in the same squad as Pietersen at so-me stage at Kingsmead, before the latter left for England furious at South African cricket. This week, in the maelstrom around the bullying, soul-sear-ching, soul-sucking big cheeses who have been outed in Pietersen’s new book, one small line almost went unnoticed.