Brittania No Longer Rules the Waves

Quick quiz:

This bridge directs the operations of:

a) The Enterprise
b) The Bismarck
c) The USS Reagan
d) None of the above

The correct answer is of course (d).

This particular bridge is where the captain of a little weekend scootaround party boat called Ilona holds forth.

The Ilona is a nice boat in the sense that Versailles is a nice weekend getaway cabin.

She was built in Holland in 2004 and was named "Superyacht of the Year". I have no idea what other boats were in the running, but I'm guessing they were all pretty nice. Your Uncle chuck's bass boat probably didn't make the cut.

Apparently the only problem on her maiden that year was that the helicopter lift malfunctioned.(that Heli-pad opens up and an elevator takes the bird below decks. Apparently if you have a helicopter sitting around on your deck it's the Filthy Rich Guy equivalent of having a 67 Biscayne on blocks in your front yard; all the other capitalist running dogs bitch about you trashing up the neighborhood).

Fortunately, the owner put an entire German engineering firm on a fast boat and got them out there to re-design and rebuild the thing over a weekend. You want something done right, get the Krauts.

But nice a name as Ilona is, it might be appropriate soon to re-name her "Goodbye England 2018".

You see, the absurdly wealthy guy who puts on a silly hat and sets sail on Ilona whenever the mood strikes him is Frank Lowry.

If you've ever gone to a Westfield Mall to buy shoes or check out the Hollistertastic chickies feverishly spending Daddy's money, you've patronized Mr. Lowry's firm. He's the largest mall developer in the world and, not coincidentally, Australia's richest man.

And if you're beginning to make a mental connection: "money-more money-boatloads of money-Sepp Blatter", then you're headed in the right direction.

You see, Mr. Lowry wants the World Cup in Australia in 2018. And with a net worth estimated in the billions he's Uncle Seppy's kind of guy.

So it won't surprise you to learn that Blatter, Jack Warner, Mohammed bin Hammam and other luxury-sucking FIFA poobahs have become regular guests aboard the Ilona. (I have no specific information as to their particular cabin companions, but given the respective party's reputations and Mr. Lowry's checkbook, well, feel free to speculate.)

In fact, they've all become such good pals that a couple weeks ago Blatter named his new bestest buddy Frank Lowry to the 2010 World Cup organizing committee, a group which consists of 31 carefully selected gentlemen including 15 of the 23 FIFA Executive Board members who will make the final decision on WC 2018.

One interesting point is that Lowry has no - none, zip, zero, nada - experience in soccer at any level, but to Blatter, that's not a problem that piles of money can't overcome.

Another is that, not coincidentally, the committee has no members from the British Isles.

As usual, THE AMAZING ANDREW JENNINGS is all over this tale, which includes fascinating details about Lowry's son Peter, a Beverly Hills resident who seems to spend much of his time scrubbing all that dirty money washday clean through chains of banks and numbered accounts in Leichtenstein, where a thoroughly bought-and-paid-for bunch or "royals" keeps the law off their backs.

If nothing else, Jenning's captions on the photos are worth a look. How he's managed to keep from ending up in a morgue someplace, nobody can say.

I also encourage you to check out a series of interviews this week on SOCCERLENS with the intrepid Jennings.

If nothing else, I'd urge you to read the last few paragraphs from Tuesdays' entry:

It’s awful. In America, the soccer Federation won’t do anything to clean up corruption in FIFA. The mice won’t squeak. You guys are out of CONCACAF. Chuck Blazer and Jack Warner in Trinidad...

We know that Jack Warner is the biggest ticket racketeer in the world. Where are the brave people of American football (soccer) who say we want nothing to do with these scum?

Where indeed, Mr. Jennings. Where indeed.

Which brings me to another article, THIS TIME FROM BUSINESSWEEK a link to which was sent by BS member chrisrun (many thanks, Sir).

It's surprisingly frank for the sort of tycoonish profile business publications normally run on guys like him.

If you can get past the gag-inducing "FIFA boasts 208 member countries, 16 more than the U.N." (why would that be, do you suppose?) and "When he travels, he boasts, "they receive me like a head of state." (he does so enjoy having his ass kissed), you get to the disturbing news that he is "toying" with the idea of running for another five-year term in 2011.

It's one of the few times anyone has heard him say much about it. Most observers have assumed that South Africa 2010 would be his swan song, but it's pretty unusual for any ridiculously wealthy and - more to the point - powerful guy to give all that up for no reason other than "it's time somebody else ran things".

It's certainly not because of the scandals which seem to come to light every other week. The latest is this NOT EVEN STARTLING REVELATION that England was offered the chance to simply bribe their way to a World Cup. Of course they were. Everybody knows it, including Sepp Blatter. At FIFA, everything is for sale.

What makes this comment about perhaps trying to continue his reign intriguing is THIS LITTLE-NOTICED COMMENT by his close, personal, partner-in-graft Mohamed Bin Hammam, president of the Asian Football Confederation who, along with Jack Warner, controls the votes which keep Blatter in office.

It appears to be a gentle warning to Blatter that perhaps he can't depend on bin Hammam's support next time because, well, bin Hammam probably wants the job for himself.

Not surprising, of course; there's no honor among thieves and all that. But bin Hamam's ascendancy would also likely mean that Jack Warner's stint as King of CONCACAF would also be over.

Which might be cause for great rejoicing, except that his likely replacement, indeed his almost sure-fire replacement, would be Chuck Blazer.

And so it goes.