The World Cup tournament hasn't even begun yet and already South Africa is sick to death of Sepp Blatter:
Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg
The fog began to lift earlier this year when the nations' media were informed that FIFA intended to closely monitor their work product and if any of them were to print or broadcast any material which they felt cast FIFA "in a bad light" their credentials would be canceled.
As it happens, RSA has a tradition of press freedom which they take very seriously and they were outraged that FIFA intends to hold a figurative gun to their heads and will pull the trigger on anyone who doesn't toe the line.
Then something called the Institute of Security Studies published a report which described in detail how Sepp Blatter had personally arranged for the SA bid committee to propose building an enormously expensive white elephant stadium in Capetown.
The initial proposal included an upgrade to the existing Athlone rugby stadium which is located in an economically depressed area of the Cape Flats, in the hope that it would spur further development and jobs in locale which desperately needs both.
Upgrading Athlone stadium would have cost R1.7 billion, according to the estimates. The new Green Point stadium, built because Blatter got former president Mbeki to intervene and change the bid, cost a staggering R4.5 billion.
And it's in a nicely prosperous area since FIFA feels it's better for business. Nobody wants to go watch a game in a depressed section of town, do they? And the visuals aren't nearly as pretty.
Poor folk just aren't as photogenic.
They had barely had time to digest this piece of blatant hypocrisy when a SA media Freedom of Information suit finally forced the disclosure of some of the details of the agreement they signed with FIFA.
Blatter demanded and is currently receiving Head of State status and is due the same protocol and consideration that a head of state would receive.
As such, he was ushered into the country last Thursday through the "protocol lounge" of O.M. Tambo airport, from whence he was driven to his hotel via the highway lane that FIFA demanded be reserved (throughout the length of the tournament) for their exclusive use.
He insisted on staying in the finest suite in the finest hotel in Johannesburg, the five-star all-suites Michelangelo Towers. Free of charge. Along with the other 24 members of FIFA's Executive Committee.
(The remainder of the 200-strong FIFA delegation will stay next door at the Michelangelo Hotel).
At his request, Blatter's personal fridge will be stocked with selected wines and ice cubes made from Evian water.
And while anyone coming anywhere near a World Cup venue with anything other than one of the officially sponsored products would be instantly wrestled to the ground and beaten to death by a horde of FIFA lawyers wielding hand tooled briefcases of the finest leathers, the officially allowed "Bonaqua" bottled water products have been replaced in his personal suite with San Pellegrino flown in from Italy.
While there, he'll have a plush office built just for him, with a private red carpeted entrance, five personal bodyguards and a private bathroom which he demanded be designed with "an African theme"
The latter has created rather a chuckle amongst the populace:
Courtesy, Transparency in Sport
(I'm reliably informed that the tabloid which first published this photo is what one might describe as "low brow". Put another way, The Voice makes The National Enquirer look like the Wall Street Journal. But they do have a keen sense of the absurd.)
Over the last day or two Blatter has been crisscrossing the country in what local media have been dutifully describing as "visits" to various stadiums. Kind of like a tourist, only with his own personal lane on the highway.
In actuality, what's going on is the official "handing over" ceremonies, at which local officials quite literally "hand over" the stadiums to FIFA, lock, stock and VVIP lounges.
For the duration of the tournament, every last broom pusher, ticket ripper and toilet scrubber in the place will be employed directly by FIFA, or rather, by the French company that bribes Blatter to give them the contract to do so.
Here's the Sepster picking up the keys at three venues just yesterday:
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibmL1DjAh4A&feature=player_embedded"]YouTube- FIFA President Sepp Blatter visits last FWC 2010 stadiums[/ame]
The dancers in Peter Mokaba stadium look like they just hauled some people off the street about ten minutes beforehand, but Sepp is to gentlemanly to notice. Or maybe he just thinks they're related to the decor in his bathroom.