Monday, June 12, 2006

A Tale of Two Diplomats

Newsweek’s international edition this week contains three pages of utter drivel on the World Cup from war criminal manqué Henry Kissinger. This snore-fest, which does little but recount the last seven finals, has no redeeming qualities or points of interest, other than the twin revelations that Kissinger “supports” second-division German side FC Furth (wonder how they feel about this?) and that Newsweek’s copy editors can’t spell “Azzurri” (psst! guys! two zeds!). It’s an utter waste of time – matched only, perhaps, by the promise of more Kissinger drivel delivered periodically via podcast throughout the World Cup on Newsweek’s website.

In beautiful contrast, however, is UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s intelligent paean to the sport in Monday’s Guardian. You can read it for yourself here, but let me just quote one little bit:

“The World Cup illustrates the benefits of cross-pollination between peoples and countries. More and more national teams now welcome coaches from other countries, who bring new ways of thinking and playing. The same goes for the players who represent clubs away from home. They inject fresh qualities into their new team and are able to contribute more to their home side when they return. In the process, they often become heroes in their adopted countries – helping to open hearts and minds.”

Beautiful and true. So why do Sepp Blatter and his cronies describe the increasing cros-border transfer of players as “an aberration”, and why are they seeking to limit it?

Kofi, baby, if you need a job in Geneva when the New York gig runs out – you’d be a huge asset to the game.

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