In the run-up to next year's London Olympics, the Olympic torch will pass through and stay overnight here in Bournemouth. I have been asked if I would agree to be nominated as one of the torch bearers. In view of my health problems and lack of fitness I have had to decline, but an article in the Sunday Times today justifies my attitude.
It turns out that a lot of free tickets for the Olympics will go to the representatives of FIFA. If you were paying attention last weeks you will have seen that FIFA president Bepp Splatter was re-elected unopposed amid accusations of corruption. The English FA made the rather moderate suggestion that the election ought to be postponed until the corruption enquiries were completed, but this was met with a vituperative reaction from some of the delegates. This is a comment from the Sunday Times: Among those who’ll get whatever access he wants to the Games will be the fat, English-hating Julio Grondona, the Fifa vice-president from Argentina. This is the man who, when canvassed for his vote for our World Cup bid, reportedly told the Football Association: “Let us be brief. If you give us back the Falkland Islands, which belong to us, you get my vote.” I wasn’t aware that this was, in footballing terms, strictly relevant and you might have hoped that Sepp Blatter would have had something to say about it. He did — he said: “Julio is a monumental man. We are friends for ever.”
Sepp is not Julio’s only friend, mind; Grondona was also rumoured to have known the mass murderer who led the fascist Argentinian junta after 1976, Jorge Rafael Videla, now serving a life sentence. Perhaps Julio would protest that his political views have changed since then — but in truth they haven’t much. In 2003 he told a journalist: “I do not believe a Jew can ever be a referee at this level. It’s hard work and, you know, Jews don’t like hard work.” But if Grondona wants to attend one or another Olympic event — I’d suggest the shooting, for nostalgic reasons — then we will carry him to the arena on a litter.
Remarkably, Grondona is probably not the worst of the bunch, although he is fabulously vile. There isn’t space here to run through the rest of the thick and grasping Third-Worlders perpetually on the make, the Jack Warners and Nicolas Leozes and the rest of them, all of whom will be given free access should they want it, which they probably will. It’s time we told them all to clear off.
Ones enemies certainly make it hard to love them.