“Die Geschichte aller bisherigen Gesellschaft ist die Geschichte von Klassenkämpfen.”
– Karl M.
A spectre is haunting football – the spectre of foolish administration. All the powers of old Europe have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcise this spectre: shameless football ‘fans’ and ‘citizens’ dedicated to ‘exposing’ the supposed ‘malpractice’ of their benevolent benefactors and much maligned manashers, French Radicals and German police-spies, Pope and Tsar. For far too long now, these scurrilous scribes have painted themselves in their immoral frames as the upholders of justice and, such is their arrogance, even as a beacon of truth, despite the fact that their cowardly pronouncements, which emanate from stuffy, badly lit rooms where they sit hunched over their only portal to the real world, their pathetic, life-sapping laptops, where they type with trembling, tobacco-stained fingers, are about as insightful and relevant as an afternoon with Louise Redknapp. It is high time that football administrators should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Foolish Admin with a strongly worded, nay passionate, press release.
And so the AFA have complied. Today on their website they have published a fascinating piece entitled “A well earned trip” in defence of the plans for club presidents and other officials travelling to South Africa. It begins in a Cartesian vein, asking ‘What is the AFA?’ “It is nothing other than some 4,000 clubs, 208 leagues, several thousand players, and thousands more kids who dream about playing football. [….] Statement the first: the AFA is its clubs. First deduction: the clubs are its directors. First conclusion: the work the directors do, their effort, their dedication, their undeniable passion, makes it possible for millions of people to enjoy their institutions, whether that be through sport, or social or cultural events.
“Nevertheless, these men, who devote such a large part of their lives and their families’ lives to football, often feel unjustly impeached for merely wanting to, once every four years, enjoy the privilege of attending the greatest party the football universe has to offer: the World Cup.
“What happens is that certain sections of the media make them feel that this is a gratuity rather than a right. Yet, if they attend [the World Cup], they will be taking their due; they will do so on the basis of their own decision to follow a course of action to which they are perfectly entitled. No-one is invited. No-one decides who goes and who doesn’t. Simply, as in all large-scale deployments, there is one body which organises and co-ordinates a matter as complex as the arrangements for travelling, hotels, eating, etc. Thereafter, each one of these men who has worked 1,460 days in their respective clubs may, if he so desires, enjoy a month at the World Cup. What’s more, it is only right and fitting that things should be thus.
“Would anyone question the right of a farmer to attend the Ploughing Championships? Are the laboratories wrong when they organise conferences to which travel speakers and listeners from all over the world? Are state dignitaries at fault when they seek to form the strongest team possible for an international summit? And if the director of a football club cannot take advantage of the opportunity to travel to a World Cup, where the greatest stars are on show, the best teams, as well as directors of all the other clubs in the world with whom they may converse, exchange ideas, share moments and experiences, if he cannot attend, how are we to appraise him in his work? Or how are the members of his club to judge him?
“It must be made abundantly clear that in this case there are neither subsidies nor gratuities. La Selección receives money for playing in the World Cup and a tiny fraction of this is reserved for each director to claim in order to travel to the ecumenical engagement that is destined to profit him so. Therefore, this demagogic recourse of treating the journey of a delegation as somehow unethical is utterly without substance. Only those directors who feel it is in their best interests will travel to South Africa, and they will only be taking what is theirs by right.”
We’ve translated the press release in full because we reckon it’s brilliant and doubt if its likes will be seen again. We should explain, however, that it is in response to comments from ‘Big Head’ Ruggeri who was on TV the other day complaining that “the AFA are going to pay the expenses of about 240 people to go to the World Cup. And the only World Champion who’s actually travelling is Daniel Passarella, and just because he’s the President of River Plate.” Fair enough, but Danny’s president of River ’cause he is a legend, has an unimpeachable character and won the elections – what’s Ruggeri been up to besides complaining for the last few years? Pegamequemegusta, you will be glad to learn, however, is not so hard-hearted as the filthy rats in the legitimate press make out, and sympathises when he says: “It’s bloody obscene. We put our bodies on the line to win those World Cups and then there’s all these lads going who’ve never even played football. Why don’t they get the wallet out and throw a bit of cash to the 43 World Champions?”
Poor thing. Ruggeri is obviously as clueless as pegamequemegusta as to how to acquire money. With hope our glorious club directors shall return from the World Cup brimming with wisdom and sucked from the thumbs of sleepy Zuricheans and we can put an end to these infernal misunderstandings between the rich and poor, eh Karl?