When Sepp Blatter says he's "a happy man", CLICKING HIS HEELS AND DOING A "LITTLE DANCE" it's probably time to short happy.
In between asserting that South Africans have "rhythm" and the Swiss are boring, he announced that the exclusive restaurants, five star hotels and Mercedes limos are absolutely ready for the World Cup.
And the stadiums are going to be just fine as well.
There were of course a couple of sour notes, particularly over security concerns, but he dismissed them as pretty insignificant:
"Blatter also downplayed fears about South Africa's towering crime levels - seen as a possible turnoff for some visitors. Some 50 people are murdered each day in the country.
'It is possible to make a wonderful event security,' he said.
Did you catch that? "50 murders a day" is a "possible turnoff" for some travelers. Ya think?
Basically, it would be safer to spend a couple weeks backpacking in Afghanistan and Sepp thinks that's a "possible turnoff"?
He is right about one thing though: it IS "possible to make a wonderful event security" for the World Cup - assuming the US will let him rent the Third Armored Division for the month.
The other discordant tone was over the failure of the Bafana Bafana to field even the semblance of a World Cup finals-caliber team. Blatter said he had been disappointed by recent results and he warned that time was running out to prepare a competitive team, an assertion which seems to irritate the SA federation.
The head of the Organizing Committee, Irvin Khoza, immediately called in reporters to rebut this outrageous - albeit patentlyy obvious - assertion, telling them:
"Football is a game of opinion"
Well, no, actually it's a game of kicking a ball into a net more often than your opponent, something which the SA nats are usually incapable of doing, but apparently nobody pointed this out. He continued:
"It's not the first time that this sort of thing happens to a host country. France did not qualify for the World Cup finals before they hosted the event in 1998 and Germany were being written off before the 2006 finals."
Of course, France was trying to qualify out of UEFA, not the CAF, and while the Germans were less than stellar nobody denied they had a boatload of talent, but apparently no one felt like pointing this out either. In any case, Khorza says that "scientific methods" will now be employed to turn the team around. I'm glad that's settled.
Sepp's only other complaint was that, according to him, people in South Africa aren't sufficiently excited:
Now it's possible that most people are busy trying to find jobs or a little fresh water or keep from being one of the 50 people a day who end up on a slab, I really don't know.
But Sepp is doing a Happy Dance and so should we all.
In related news, Blatter also told reporters that the reason no African team has yet won the WOrld Cup is mostly because THE CONTINENT DOESN'T GET ENOUGH SLOTS in the final field, and he intends to do something about it.
Leaving aside the absurdity of leaving out much more talented sides so that Lesotho and Zimbabwe can send teams, th rest of the World will fight this tooth and nail and there's no chance whatever of it actually happening.
The disturbing thing about this idea is that it's a typical Sepp Blatter campaign pledge, designed more to keep the African federations in his corner than to actually change anything.
And here some of us were actually hoping he might step down in a couple of years.
Hopping back to this hemisphere, the Puerto Rico Islanders did what Chivas USA couldn't manage: THEY BEAT PANAMA'S TAURO FC in a CONCACAF Champions League match last night, and they did it playing the last 20+ minutes with ten men.
Up in Montreal, at Joey Saputo's luxurious $15 million high school soccer stadium, the Impact will meet the scourge of the Revolution, Joe Public tonight.
There seems to be a problem WITH THE WONDERFUL TURF IN HIS WONDERFUL MLS CALIBER STADIUM but I'm sure they'll work something out.