FIFA Grand Poohbah Sepp "Leaky" Blatter jetted into Rio over the weekend on his
Gaily Caparisoned White Stallion Personal Gulfstream VII for a whirlwind visit to try and get Brazil 2014 out of the gutter.
This kind of thing has always been his specialty, the thing he did best: meet with the head of state (you'll recall that FIFA demands that Blatter be accorded exactly the same levels of ceremony, security and accommodations that nations routinely accord visiting heads of state) attend a gala reception or two, shake a lot of hands and pose for a lot of pictures (which usually include Pele who, most of the time, looks like he's not quite certain where he is).
At the end of his whirlwind visit he issues a parting media statement (he used to love meeting with local reporters - and dazzling them with his wit and charm - but lately even the most adoring and pliant of lapdog reporters tend to ask embarrassing questions) "commending" one and all on their (and his) wonderfulness and proclaiming that everyone is now the best of friends and "completely in accord" on every conceivable topic including but not limited to their favorite color, vintage French wine and sexual position.
So in the wake of last week's kerfuffle over World Cup preparations which saw FIFA General Secretary (ie. the guy in charge of actually making stuff happen) talking smack about Brazil's hind ends needing a good kicking and Brazilian officials responding by banning Valcke from the country, Sepp leapt into action.
He dialed up Zurich Airport, made sure his plane was well stocked with Evian ice cubes and San Pellegrino mineral water (no, I'm not making that up) and off he jetted to Rio to pour oil on the troubled waters there.
While there, he wandered around with Pele and Ronaldo (the former figuring out his lunch order while the latter kept a keen eye out for shiny objects)
and later met with President Dilma Rouseff, who heartily shook Sepp's hand after being presented with a personally autographed photo of herself shaking Sepp's hand.
Afterwards, Blatter modestly announced that his mission had been a rousing, unqualified triumph for the ages, with the President herself "guaranteeing" that everything will be ready for the finals in 14 months:
"I'm happy with the outcome of this meeting...You see a smiling FIFA president here.
"The government will fulfill the requirements and guarantees given, and I trust Brazil."
Ronaldo added that it was an "excellent meeting" (normally that means he managed not to spill anything on himself) while Pele commented that "from now on we will move forward with harmony".
Left unmentioned was the fact that, among many other items, the airport upgrades that Brazil promised in their bid have not even been started, may never be started and even if they are cannot physically be completed in the time they have available.
This is because Sepp really doesn't care that much about all of that. Details are for the little people. What he's most concerned about is the bill which Brazil's legislature has to pass in order for FIFA to sell Budweiser in the stadiums.
If that's all there was to it though, maybe a compromise could be reached. But in fact, the proposed law gives FIFA all sorts of financial and legal powers, the same ones which South Africa happily ceded without a murmur (and came to deeply regret; "trusting FIFA" is a sucker's game) but which most sovereign republics would never permit.
Despite this inconvenient fact, President Dilma assured Blatter that, come June of 2014, everyone will be drowning in Bud Light in every stadium in the country while FIFA will be allowed to exempt whomever they want from the necessity of obtaining a Brazilian visa, have an entire lane of all highways reserved for their exclusive use and getting away without paying a single dime in local taxes.
For his part, Blatter pretended to accept this despite knowing that it's a promise she herself cannot make.
Yet even as Sepp's personal aircraft was disappearing into the sunrise leaving his usual huge carbon footprint in his wake, former Brazil striker and current legislator and rising political figure Romario appeared with a big old bucket of cold water:
“It was a shame to read the newspapers and see that the federal government has united with FIFA to make the greatest World Cup of all time
“It’s a troublesome lie. It won’t be the greatest and we will be embarrassed.
“The federal government is deceiving the people."
He then tossed out a shocking expletive while adding that the World Cup will be a failure “if wrong and strange things like this meeting between Blatter and people not linked to the World Cup bill keep happening.”
So basically, this meeting accomplished nothing, resolved no problems and answered no questions whatsoever.
They didn't even solve the problem of what to do about letting Valck back into the country. Blatter made some noises about being "personally involved" in preparations, but nobody with a brain or a clue can seriously believe that the aging Swiss grandee is capable or even willing to run a World Cup.
As Romario said:
“(The World Cup) will be the greatest heist in the history of Brazil.
“Then I’ll want to see if the people who were smiling in the photograph in that meeting will want to show up again. Brazil is a circus and you already know who the clowns are.”