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.
The near flambéing of Australian T20 skipper Aaron Finch by a flame thrower in their defeat by the Proteas in Adelaide on Wednesday made him angry.
Or so the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday, with the headline “Aaron Finch angered after incident with flame thrower”.
In the piece, Finch is quoted as saying: “I sort of stood off, waiting for them to go off.
“And when they didn’t (I thought) they must have pulled the pin on them for that time – and then bang. It was a shock, I can tell you. I’m sure it could be quite dangerous.”
So he was shocked, but, well, no mention of anger there, but, heck, why let that stop an editor seeking an adjective to bump the headline to fit instead of pumping up the font size or playing with the leading?
Finch was right, though, it was dangerous. It would have been doubly so if Doug Bollinger had got too close to the flames with that Russian-made hair he had trans-planted on his once-bald noggin back in 2008.
Greg Matthews, the former Australian all-rounder, signed Bollinger up for the deal with his hair company.
Matthews was described as a man with “extravagant affectations, cool lingo and dogged fighting spirit which briefly made him the most hip player in the country” by Greg Baum on cricinfo.
“I’m sure the hair will make Doug feel better about himself. If you feel good about yourself, you become a better man, and if you’re a better man, you’ll become a better cricketer.
“Doug was broke and bald when he first met Tegan (now his wife). Now he’s got hair and cash – and an Australian contract.”
The hair, admittedly, looks good. It’s a little like T20 cricket; you think it’s a bit thick, but you find yourself liking it anyway. As did many on Sunday at the Ram Slam T20 Challenge triple header at the Wanderers.
It was a long day, and, thanks to Eskom and Joburg City Power, it was a longer day. There was power around, but not enough of it to enable TV sets or the main scoreboard to work properly. T20 demands TV replays.
So do sports journalists, and the scorers in the press box worked their socks off to ensure we knew who was out, when, where and how, and how many they had scored.
It was like cricket reporting from the mid-eighties, except for the pesky dictating of copy.
The power came on near the end, the generators (“We have enough diesel to run them for four days,” one Gauteng Cricket Board official told me) being cranked up to warp factor 11, so the scoreboard finally worked.
Through it all, the stadium DJ never seemed to lack for power, and the flame throwers never missed a beat.
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”
The main field at Old Eds in Houghton are a long way from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nairobi. The news this weekend that one of just seven northern white rhinos left on the planet had died formed a link between Kenya and South Africa, a lesson of what might happen to the southern white rhinos in this fair land should the scourge of poaching not be slowed or halted.
Suni, a 34-year-old rhino was one of the last two breeding northern white rhinos in the world, died of natural causes, but his breed has been cut to the verge of extinction by “decades of rampant poaching,” reported The Guardian. “The species now stands at the brink of complete extinction, a sorry testament to the greed of the human race,” said the Ol Pejeta conservancy. “We will continue to do what we can to work with the remaining three animals on Ol Pejeta in the hope that our efforts will one day result in the successful birth of a northern white rhino calf.” Fifty nine rhinos were poached in Kenya last year.
South Africa is on target to break last year’s record of 1004 rhinos poached for their horns. As of October 12, 791 had been killed, according to the department of environmental affairs. It has spiralled out |of control.