Sunday, 6 December 2009

Blatter has only got one ball......

.......The other is bashfully knocking around the empty terraces of Croke Park.

Treading on dangerous ground, crudely adapting a rhyme about Hitler to that of beleaguered FIFA president, Sepp Blatter. Blatter can barely spin the politics of kicking a ball around a grass pitch let alone mass genocide.

Instead, what I am referring to in using the rhyme, is Blatter's lack of minerals. Following, the Republics controversial defeat to France last month, after Thierry Henry's handball assist, secured his nations place in next years World Cup, FIFA and the footballing world in general was once again under the spot light over how to manage blatant injustices, the implications of which can decide the fate of whether your nation competes in the World Cup or not.

For me, the solution to the problem is simple. Video replays. I'm sure there are plenty of arguments against this, such as it will slow down the flow of the game, and I would counter that simply with the fact that when there is so much at stake, and an extreme amount of pressure on officials, accuracy and integrity trumps time delays. I will save the other arguments for another day.

But, for as long as the governing bodies preside over what to do, they will continue to find themselves cleaning up their self imposed problems. I never really believed or expected anything to come of the injustice that quashed Irish hearts, and I also refuse to blame Henry's hand of Judas as a scapegoat. Long gone are the days of gracious sportsmanship, and, honestly, had I been in the same situation as Henry, I wouldn't have exactly been vigorously chasing the ref to give honest testimony over my fortuitous actions. As I said, despite sitting pretty on my moral high ground, I to fall short of sporting conduct from yesteryear. I would, however admit the offense and be in favour of a replay. All of which Henry eventually did.

Even the French felt the injustice, and felt little honour in qualifying in such controversial circumstances. So, back to Blatter and his minerals, or lack their of. While the Republic, and France to a lesser extent, exercised the idea of a replay, or an extra ball in the World Cup draw, FIFA sat on its hands and offered "moral compensation" as their pitiful solution. I can just imagine it now, Robbie Keane down on one knee gratefully accepting some shiny plaque as scant consolation, while Blatter and Platini look on in admiration of another job neatly swept under the red carpet of South Africa.

Following the painfully dull World Cup draw, throwing in an extra ball for Ireland, just to make the numbers odd would have offered some excitement, purely to see logistically how it would have been handled. Given that my nation, England, are not only in the World Cup, but have also landed a favourable group, I should be buoyed with excitement. But, being English, I have pessimism ingrained to my soul, which enables to me turn any group we happen to land in, as the now customary tournament "group of death". Portugal and Brazil? Nah, Algeria and Slovenia look far more worrisome.

So, being resigned to imminent disappointment no matter who was drawn, having Ireland thrown in to the mix, while the likes of Charlize Theron laboriously plucked out balls at random would have been a welcome distraction to a World Cup draw that otherwise invoked little enthusiasm. It too would have shown that FIFA are capable of solving problematic issues, instead of ignoring them until the next controversy rears its ugly head.

The World Cup is now "only" some 180 odd days away, which seems like a life time to me, but maybe in the mean time, Blatter and the powers that be in FIFA can proactively find a solution before the next big injustice is served. And, given my stated pessimism, I believe there is about as much chance of that happening as there ever was of Ireland reaching the World Cup, once Henry handed another rubix cube to the desk of Sepp Blatter.

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