Good Old Fashioned Graft


We are so inured to corruption of all kinds that I really think most of us just take it for granted nowadays. In the same way that we always expected the Duck Dynasty idiots to be racist homophobes and the Duggar Family to be child molesters, we expect big business to buy and sell our politicians at every level. Beyond the loss of a few reality TV show sponsors, we also expect the perpetrators to go unpunished. So it was with something close to incredulity that I watched FBI agents and Swiss police people raiding the offices of FIFA today.

As a card-carrying Brit, I’m supposed to love the beautiful game of football, or soccer if you insist. In fact, as a card-carrying asthmatic incapable of running for more than a few seconds as a kid, I stayed back in the classroom and did needle point with the girls. Simpler times, I guess. I’ve always loathed soccer; I hate the macho hooligans who play it and watch it and I hate the constant spitting. I hate the endless statistics and ridiculous jingoism it generates. The antics of its governing board, FIFA, always struck me as perfectly matching the boring, boorish nature of the sport. Much like the MLB and the NFL, the sport got the governing body it deserves.

A few weeks back, the hilarious John Oliver (one of three reasons to keep HBO) did an amazing piece on the comic opera level of corruption which pervades FIFA. He brilliantly mocked the absurd level of old fashioned graft hidden in plain sight. Corruption so extreme that it could land the 2022 World Cup in the despotic regime of Qatar, a country where it’s 110 degrees in the shade most of the year and they are building luxury hotels for the games with what is essentially slave labor. I’m pretty sure most of us laughed and mentally shrugged our shoulders. Business as usual, what ya gonna do? Then this morning’s events.

It would be fantastic if the FBI and the Swiss Gendarmerie follow through and actually jail the greedy, arrogant idiots who have treated FIFA as their private ATM for many years. Perhaps next, they can go after the greedy arrogant idiots at AIG and BofA who crashed the world’s economy back in 2009, but I’m not holding my breath for that one. Anyway, Vive Le Sport!

The Great AntiFoot Hoax?


Every so often you come across a marketing story which is so clever you really have to wonder if it actually happened. Such a story of sweeping through the media and chatterati of France. It’s World Cup season worldwide (everywhere except here in the US that is) and those very clever folks at Orangia have announced and claim to be selling the Orangina Antifoot…this has nothing to do with athletes foot I’m pleased to report.  The commercials show some boffins adding electronics to an Orangina can which allows the smart lady in the bar who doesn’t love ‘the beautiful game’ to surreptitiously turn off all the TVs in the bar. Such devices do exist…indeed a few years back when I was traveling a lot more than I do now and was tired of endless commercials and CNN news loop repeats being played at my poor head I did invest in such a device and it will indeed turn off any TV from 30 feet’s a kind of universal off remote and yours for just $20.

What’s so clever about this campaign is that is that apart from the one pictured in the commercial nobody (that I have read about) has been able to get hold of the real thing.  It looks like it’s simply a very clever commercial hoax masquerading as reality.It’s technically feasible and makes for a hilarious commercial but the amount of adverse publicity it would cause if actually used …let alone the spontaneous outbreaks of mob violence against anyone caught drinking Orangina leads me to think that it never went into actual production or sale…which is a pity.

GOAL!!! New Smart Watch Technology Being Used at the World Cup


With the World Cup officially underway, new technologies have been introduced in order to help minimize those crucial missed calls. One of those new technologies uses multiple cameras around the stadium to help the referee make a decision. With thousands of fans screaming what they think should be the “correct” judgment, referees at the World Cup this year will wear watches that will vibrate and display the word “GOAL” each time a ball crosses the goal line.

FIFA officials has been discussing goal-line technology since the months following the 2010 World Cup. That tournament saw England denied a score in a match against Germany even though the ball had clearly passed the goal line.

FIFA began testing goal-line technology and approved its use in 2012. The device can be used only to determine if the ball has crossed the line, and referees must be notified within one second. Only match officials can receive these scoring notifications.

The buzzing watches serve only as a recommendation, and the referee still makes the final call on a goal. The smartwatches used in Brazil are made by a German company called GoalControl, which installs 14 cameras that track the ball around the pitch. It was first used in the FIFA Confederations Cup last year, a tournament that passed without goal-line controversy.

FIFA is also open to other types of systems that track the ball through magnetic fields created by underground cables, although these would require physical alterations to the ball itself. This has obvious downsides, given soccer players’ particular desire about the balls they use.