The relationship that South Africa enjoys with FIFA is somewhat akin to that which, say, a lowly baronetcy in deepest, darkest France enjoyed with Le Roi, in the days when the Bastille was still unstormed.
This is not to say that when the king’s away the mice won’t play – indeed, our soccer mice don the demeanor of proper monsignors when they have SA all to themselves, right down to the detail of taking morning chocolate.
But when FIFA roars, the monsignors shiver in their boots – and it roared this weekend. For no apparent reason. As was widely covered by the press, FIFA announced the ten stadia that will host the matches of the 2010 World Cup – precisely one month after these ten stadia had already been announced to the world by SA’s local organising committee, as duly covered in SA Blog.
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The reason for FIFA’s duplication? In Your Correspondent’s opinion, there are ten: (1) to show who’s boss; (2) to show, once again, who’s boss; (3) to remind those in South Africa about who’s boss here; and, most interestingly, to reiterate this sentiment seven more times.
The stadia are FIFA’s Ten Commandments to the SA organisers. There will be no backtracking, no wheeling-and-dealing, no last-minute changes on the stadia policy – which usually provides great behind-the-scenes fun in the run up to major events.
THOU SHALT NOT, HOWEVER, TOUCH THE STADIA IN SOUTH AFRICA, SAYETH FIFA. Doubtless the monsignors are disappointed – and possibly wondering if FIFA’s statement was requested from within their ranks, to quell any planned uppityness. They’re probably all hurrying on to the next major goodie to toy around with before FIFA can put the kibosh on that, too.