Kick in the halls of soccer

FEELING a little overwhelmed by the impending chaos of the Christmas period – with a Bex and a good lie down looking tempting – I was in need of a laugh this week, and with the losing Australian football World Cup bid I got one.

Unlike the PM, I did not sit up in my jim-jams to watch the announcement. I know this was un-Australian, but unlike Julia I need my beauty sleep. Although I did wonder briefly, along with I'm sure many other Aussie blokes, just what form the Prime Ministerial pyjamas do take, which I felt was reasonably patriotic in itself.

Was I disappointed we didn't get the Cup? Well, yes, given the $45 million we spent trying. But what I couldn't fail to find amusing was the breathtaking naivety with which we always seem to go into these things. For some reason, we seem to think the rest of the world is honest and that a handshake and looking folk in the eye will win the day.

That, along with a naff but endearing video featuring an animated kangaroo and Hoges.

It should be that way, of course, but it isn't. Most of the rest of the world works on backroom deals, palm-greasing, extortion and threats. Granted, we paid some “football consultants” we met in a pub $11 million to help us feel our way along FIFA's dim corridors, but judging by the outcome I'd say we picked the wrong ones.

Oh well, it's only money.

It's just the way we seem genuinely surprised when things like this happen that gets me.

Like a Gulf backwater where no-one plays football, whose name sounds like something you cough into a hanky and which has an average daytime temperature of 48 degrees winning the World Cup. There must, we conclude indignantly, be something dodgy going on. Of course, anything supervised by the Public Notary of Zurich – a city known for the transparency of its financial practices – would have to be totally above board, wouldn't it?

But for me the laughs didn't end there. We had the kangaroo in the video which at one stage, exhausted from bounding across the world, lay down on a highway looking – perhaps prophetically – like road kill.

Then there was the crazy name business. We had Igor – you need to really roll the ‘r' – Shuvalov, deputy PM of Russia, FIFA's Sepp Blatter and Qatar's emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani – who I'm sure was driving a taxi I caught once – and his wife Chair.

One memorable quote came from a “veteran Arab sports analyst” who gravely pronounced that an emir “does not risk losing face in front of his own people or in front of the rulers of other countries”. What, was he going to hack some heads off with a scimitar if Qatar lost?

Then there was Aussie soccer legend Robbie Slater who told FoxSports, “I think there's a lot of questions that need to be answered about this.” I agree. The Socceroos declared they'd teach those Qataris a football lesson, but is this enough? I'm for declaring war on Qatar, just as soon as we find out where the heck it is...



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