Matthew Monk is a school teacher
from the UK who has the World Cup as one of his greatest passions. He will share his views about the past, present and future of
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Well, I think I have already had my favourite moment
of the World Cup. I don't want to seem obsessed with
Sepp Blatter, but the sight of the Protégé being
roundly booed by 60 000 people in Seoul's impressive
new stadium is going to take a lot of beating.
The opening ceremony of the World Cup is often as
dreary as the first match - all gymnastics, dancing
and dull speeches. Now this year's version was not
exactly scintillating, but how often do you get to see
a pompous Executive look shifty while thousands boo
every word he says?
I love the look he had in his eyes as the booing
started. Just seconds before he had stood before the
world as the ultimate victor. He was so proud; this
was the pinnacle of his career, his life. 'Look at
me' he said, standing expectantly for the applause.
He fiddles with the microphone, then blows into it.
Unfortunately he doesn't say 'testing, testing' and
tap his fingers on it to make sure it's working. But
his eyes say it all: the look, the stare. He is
embarrassed, hurt, angry. He tries to smile and pulls
the microphone closer. In the background, still
slightly in shot sits the Big Man, relegated to the
second row these days, but still strategically placed
behind the FIFA President, like the power behind the
What must he be thinking? Imagine if this had
happened in Argentina or Spain - Joâo would have had
his old friend Carlos Lacoste shoot them all. But
today he just sits there, quietly happy that his
Protégé is suffering. Just like an elephant, the Big
Man never forgets. Sepp went to see UEFA once and
promised to get rid of his boss, if they let him take
over. UEFA said no and Havelange went anyway, but he
never forgave Sepp properly. That's what you get when
you stab me in the back, my friend.
Valiantly, Sepp tried to carry on, but everything was
going wrong now. He could hear his own fractured
English booming around the massive sound system -
every time he read out a sentence, he hesitated,
almost as if he was listening to what he had just
said. But even then you could hear the booing.
Finally he bit. "Fair play please" he said, uttering
the FIFA slogan as much for his own benefit as for the
tournament. Up on screen popped old Charlie Dempsey
from Oceania - he looked to be booing, or maybe it was
just his dentures falling out? Sat behind, Franz
Beckenbauer tried to look stoic, but even he seemed to
be stifling a smile. Many around him - Executives all
- could not resist. If only we could have seen
Lennart Johansson or Issa Hayatou: they must have been
turning cartwheels of delight.
As he carried on he looked as defeated as he ever has,
forcing each convoluted statement out. His eyes
darted from his speech to the crowd and quickly back
to the floor. It must have been the first time in
history that a plea for world peace and harmony was
booed. What an opportune moment to cut away to Michel
Platini, sat among several half dead Executives. His
arms folded, his face etched in a frown, Platini must
be hoping this does not happen to him in Portugal in
two years or Germany two later. But if this carried
on, he might even get the job he wants by the time we
roll into Yokohama.
Finally it was over. Sepp handed over to the
President of Korea and the Prime Minister of Japan as
fast as he could. Apart from the Executives and
sponsors, crowd shots showed very few clapping the man
in possession of what Havelange once called the most
powerful position in the world.
Could you feel sorry for him? Did he deserve this?
Of course he did. Blatter's stranglehold on FIFA is
strong enough now to keep him in power until he
decides to leave. But this will make him think, make
him less cocksure of himself. Next time we see him in
front of the TV cameras he will be in Yokohama,
passing the World Cup to Emperor Akihito. I bet you
any money he does not make a speech then!
Saying that though, Sepp simply could not resist
squeezing his loveable frame into the history making
handshake between Korea's President and Japan's Prime
Minister. Even now though events conspired to stop
him - the Korean director shot away to the two
nation's flags and then a video, just when Sepp was
unleashing his winning smile.
After that excitement I happily sat through half an
hour of ribbons, drums and dancing waiting for the
main event: France versus Senegal.
As the game took place over lunchtime and the early
afternoon here in the UK, I watched the game at work.
That meant standing up in my jam-packed classroom,
watching a flickering, shadowy image along with about
60 schoolkids. And it was all the better for it. For
all the talk of this game being the biggest shock in
World Cup history - anyone remember unbeatable England
losing to the USA in 1950 or North Korea dismissing
the catenaccio of Italy in 1966? - I thought it was
always going to be a tight fixture. Just last week I
wrote how I thought Senegal would get a point, but I
have to admit that I never thought they would really
But they deserved it. France seemed to be waiting
around for something to happen, as if they thought
they simply had to turn up to win. They never reached
anything like top form, and once Djorkaeff went off -
replaced unbelievably by Dugarry - France lost what
cutting edge they had. Honorary Boltonian Youri
Djorkaeff certainly went down a treat in my small
corner of the world, seeing as so many of the kids I
was watching the game with regularly saw him play for
Bolton Wanderers in the last part of this season. But
even this could not stop them wildly celebrating when
Bouba Diop scored. It was a magical, happy moment,
and is what the World Cup is all about. France are a
brilliant team, and I am sure that no one will
begrudge them another victory come June 30, but just
for now it is good to see the Serial Killer and his
Only another 63 games to go. Enjoy it while you can.
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