Don’t say the ‘F’ word

The media have started reporting certain details of the FIFA corruption scandal.

For example, this link takes you to the BBC coverage entitled Fifa crisis: Ex-official Chuck Blazer details bribe-taking. It includes this:

Former top Fifa official Chuck Blazer has admitted that he and others on the executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the choice of South Africa as 2010 World Cup host.

The American said he also helped to arrange bribes over the 1998 event.

The admissions come in a newly released transcript from a 2013 US hearing in which he pleads guilty to 10 charges.

And this link takes you to the Guardian coverage entitled Fifa whistleblower Chuck Blazer: I took bribes over 1998 and 2010 World Cups. It includes this:

An American former Fifa executive cooperating with the FBI on a major corruption inquiry has admitted that he and other members of the all-powerful executive committee were bribed in return for voting for South Africa’s bid for the 2010 World Cup.

Chuck Blazer, a 70-year-old soccer chief, made the admission in testimony to a New York judge in 2013 which was made public on Wednesday.


Blazer, an eccentric power broker for American soccer for decades, and a member of the Fifa executive committee for six years until 2013, also admitted in the court facilitating the payment of a bribe relating to the 1998 World Cup.

Notice anything interesting about the presentation of the information? Anything missing?

Without further reading, I can see that the 2010 World Cup was in South Africa. Where was the 1998 World Cup? It was in France, but it is nowhere in either coverage. Why? Just an oversight? Deliberate policy? Sloppy reproduction of some sloppily written press release? Or is it OK to mention probable corruption in South Africa, but not in France? Or,  is old corruption no longer corruption?

By way of contrast, the ‘F’ word is in the CNN coverage, here.

A unique world cup experience

Susan and I went with friends to watch the final at Jems in Petach Tikva.

Jems is highly recommended. It’s a restaurant attached to a microbrewery. (The branch in Ra’anana is too small to deliver anything decent.) The food in Petach Tikva is good, the beers are good, and the atmosphere is terrific. Usually it’s about the music. Last night it was the football.

First, it seemed that most of the crowd (which was also extended to the front yard basketball court) were there to support Argentina. Susan accordingly persuaded me it would not be a good idea for me to join in singing the German national anthem…

Second, we were watching on one of the main Israeli channels. Before the game, at half time, and full time (before extra time) we got the news about the latest developments in Hamas’ terror offensive.

We sort of knew there was some kind of artificial break in the proceedings, because the channel was broadcasting missile warnings at the top right of the screen. These dwindled to nothing while the game was going on. Before and after, however, there was plenty of evidence that Israel was once again under attack. So, either Hamas are football fans, or it was a bizarre coincidence.

I thought the game was interesting rather than exciting. I felt that if Argentina had taken any of their chances, the Germans might have got back into it. But the Argentinian defense was doing pretty well. It was only at the goal that their marking went to pieces. Whoever should have been marking the scorer was too far from his man, and caught ball watching. That having been said, it was a terrific move and piece of skill.

The goal was deserved. In truth, I’m not sure about the win. However, nobody remembers anything but the winner.

So Germany marches forward, once again masters of the footballing world. The English can only look on with envy. England could win that tournament (in the future) and they could be a real force. But not with the present people or structure. My bet is that they do not sort things out and the poor English football fan is going to be disappointed for decades to come. Shame, because they deserve better.

As for Scotland, I simply wish them well. They should be taking a good long, hard look at Belgium and slavishly copy that approach. It sure works.

Finally, as for Israel, I regret that they are unlikely ever to trouble the world as a footballing force, short of a miracle or ten. But we will see the occasional talented individual flying the flag for his country.

Finally, finally (!) I have a small glow of smug satisfaction at predicting the winner. I am genuinely sad that I was equally accurate in my prediction about England’s campaign. Never mind. The Premier league will be starting soon.

Nuts about the World Cup?

The World Cup starts today. If I had forgotten, I was reminded on arrival at the office this morning. This was waiting for me, on my desk:


It’s as long as my forearm and twice as thick, and it is full of nuts.

Do you think they are trying to tell me something?

Oh, and far as the actual competition is concerned, I am going to doom Germany by predicting them to win it. I expect England to struggle. I would prefer that they did well – and they should with the available talent – but they are missing a certain spark, on and off the park.

May the best team win!