By Adriaan Basson
Who owns the sea? (BP might think they do, but no.) And street cricket? And climbing up Table Mountain? Horse racing? And walking your dog?
So why do we allow Fifa to continue behaving as if they own the beautiful game?
Why should I be forced to pay R30 for one reddish American beer when the pub opposite the road sells local quarts for R12? And why do we allow the Fifa police to arrest and detain young girls with orange dresses that has a 3cm Bavaria logo where even the most hi-tech TV camera wouldn’t pick it up?
Fifa Inc is in town and I’m pissed off for being pissed off because I really wanted to have a good time, get drunk with foreigners on the beer of my choice and watch beautiful footie, day and night.
But, alas, Herr Blatter, his cronies and my own government that signed away our sovereignty on 17 pieces of paper have made it impossible for me to relax. Or wear orange, for that matter.
Pause. Breathe. Who is Fifa and why do we allow them to do this?
On May 21 1904 a bunch of European countries came together and decided to establish a governing body for football*. A kind of voluntary association that would draw up match schedules, decide whose mom was bringing hot dogs to the next game and those sort of things. All good and well.
Pretentious as only a bunch of European men in one room can be, they decided to call the club Fédération Internationale de Football Association, instead of something like Football Lovers United.
Over the years they succeeded in convincing other continents and their soccer bosses to join the club. And soon the club realised the potential of making Big Bucks.
What Jean-Marie Faustin Goedefroid de Havelange, a Brazilian chap who was Fifa president from 1974 to 1998, and Blatter essentially realised was that they could package football and sell it back to the fans. Easy, hey?
A few years down the line, they had those makers of cheap, affordable football gear, the Dassler family (Adidas), on board. Then health food experts Coca-Cola and McDonalds came by, and quicker than you could say “Joseph Blatter”, Fifa was rolling in the moola.
Let’s give the devil his due — World Cup 2010 is (mostly) a well-organised event and has finally brought decent highways and public transport to South Africa. For that we are thankful, Mr Blatter (although we paid the bill, of course).
But why the dictatorial tendencies to ban and prohibit and arrest and charge?
This morning I wanted to watch a clip of the Nigeria/Greece game on Youtube, and guess what? “This video contains content from FIFA, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”
Herr Blatter and his cronies should be told loudly and clearly that they DO NOT OWN FOOTBALL. Football belongs to no-one and everyone.
Unfortunately it doesn’t look like football administrators (South Africa’s included) will soon bring about a change of regime and attitude at Fifa. The cushions are too soft.
It’s really up to the fans of football to claim back our beautiful game, and the right to drink whatever beer we want to, wear orange dresses if we like and watch the replay of a soccer match, whenever we feel like it.
* Read the history of Fifa at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA
** Then read the dark side of Fifa at http://www.transparencyinsport.org/
*** If you’re still sober, go to the FIFA Reformation page on Facebook