Talks with Septic Bladder
I was amused by the Sunday Times's exposé (17 October) of alleged corruption within Fifa, the governing body of world football. By the start of the week, the rest of the media had leapt aboard the bandwagon. I must say it made me reconsider the definition of "news". I had always presumed that contained in the concept of "news" was the concept of "new" - the implication being: "Here's something you didn't know."
However, the notion that the process by which Fifa's 24-man executive committee reaches its decision on who will host the World Cup is - how can I put this delicately? - as riddled with corruption as a Jacobean whore was riddled with the pox was an "exclusive" on a par with "Earth goes round sun" and "Pope wears women's underwear". (What do you mean, you didn't know?)
Businessmen say it's impossible to make money out of football. There are exceptions: players, agents, managers, Rupert Murdoch and merchant bankers all do very well out of our national game. But for the owners of clubs, it's essentially an exercise in ego. This is why I have turned down the opportunity to buy Liverpool, Manchester City and Wayne Rooney. My ego is large enough not to need the first two of these and my domestic staff is large enough not to require the third.
Nevertheless, I have decided to become a member of Fifa's inner circle. Having had to lay out considerable sums to buy votes in my time, it would be a pleasant change to have one to sell. So I have opened negotiations with Septic Bladder, the Führer of Fifa, to become voting representative for the Antarctic Football Federation. Rest assured, I will commit my vote to England's 2018 World Cup bid if I make it on to the committee, unless the Russians offer more.
Hold on, you say, Antarctica is an uninhabited wasteland, untrampled by studded Nike. To which I counter: Antarctica is a proudly undefeated football nation, which is more than you can say for Nigeria and Tahiti, two names unlikely to trouble the World Cup trophy engraver for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, if global warming predictions are to be believed, Antarctica could become a hotbed of sporting excellence by the end of the century.
What I won't do is blatantly fish for a backhander from someone who might turn out to be an undercover reporter. I must say I'm surprised and disappointed that a Nigerian, of all people, is reported to be involved in all this. My personal preference when a backhander is in the offing is to set up a front organisation to receive the donation. If I were the Nigerian Fifa representative, I'd have said: "Of course, the money's not for me. No, make the cheque out to the Campaign for African Sporting Heroes. And if that's too much to cram on to a cheque, just put 'Cash'."
As told to Marks and Gran