On the sidelines

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 December, 2007, 12:00am

Bungling Blatter loses the plot

Who would have thought a poster could create such a stir? When Sepp Blatter unveiled the official poster for 2010 in Durban last week - a clever representation of Africa with the northeast of the continent as the face of a player in the act of heading a ball - the Fifa chief sparked speculation about what the image was really about. His description of the logo left no doubt that he was referring to Samuel Eto'o, the Barcelona striker, although he never mentioned him by name.

'You will have no problem to recognise first of all that it's Africa and you have the face of one of the most popular and well-known faces of the continent,' Blatter said.

'He was not able to participate in the last World Cup, but what is more important here is to give this continent a face, a human face in football.'

That left most observers scratching their heads as to why Blatter would refer to Eto'o, who's not a South African, but a Cameroonian.

Fifa's spin-meisters didn't take long to start reinterpreting their boss' words. 'It was a spontaneous remark,' they explained. And when the media information sheets were distributed the president's flight of fancy was nowhere to be found, excised in the most Orwellian manner. 'Africa is the official 'hero' of the event poster,' read the release.

'The unique shape of the continent almost naturally lends itself to the shape of a man's profile, while the face represents every single African supporter from Morocco in the north, Gambia in the east (sic), Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia in the west (sic) to South Africa in the south.' For an organisation and an event so wedded to the African idea, you'd think their geographic knowledge would be better.

What's your name again?

The PA announcer at Absa Stadium had some memorable moments during the Orlando Pirates v Kaizer Chiefs match, most notably introducing guests of honour 'Frank' Beckenbauer and 'Michael' Platini as they met the teams.

Later he gave this public safety warning: 'For those of you driving [home] we ask you to try to remain as sober as possible.'

Roll up, roll up, get your tickets

Ticketing is a perennial problem at World Cups, with 'true fans' often being bypassed in favour of dilettantes with deeper pockets or sponsors' guests.

To combat that, the South Africa 2010 organising committee and Fifa will make available 120,000 free tickets for local residents (including expats) only. Also the lowest-priced tickets will be 140 rand (HK$159), less than half the equivalent for Germany 2006.

CEO of the organising committee, Danny Jordaan, explained the pricing decision: 'It will make sure that it is the poor football fans who attend games regularly who get access to the stadium during 2010.'

Keep your England job, says Parreira

Carlos Alberto Parreira has been under a bit of fire in South Africa for what some see as the slow pace of improvement the Bafana Bafana have shown on the field. But even if he was to find himself out of work he wouldn't be taking the Engand job. 'I would not want the England job,' Parreira said. 'They are one of the countries who should have one of their own. They need an English coach. In football in Brazil we would never take a foreigner. Maybe for the gymnastics or swimming teams, or in basketball at which we used to be good. But football ... never.'