Who will bell the Fifa fat cat?

CityPress - - Sport - S’Busiso Mse­leku sm­se­leku@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Sbu_Mse­leku

One of my favourite child­hood sto­ries was a piece ti­tled “Who will bell the cat?”

This old fa­ble was about a com­mu­nity of mice who were plan­ning a ball. This was un­til the owner of the house de­cided to get a cat as a pet. This meant the ro­dents could no longer prance around at will, as any that strayed found them­selves be­com­ing a de­li­cious meal for the

It caused such havoc that the mice de­cided to hold a meet­ing to dis­cuss how to deal with the new­comer who had spoilt their fun.

Dur­ing the de­lib­er­a­tions, one young bright spark came up with this bril­liant idea: “Why don’t we just put a bell around the cat’s neck so that we can all hear it from a dis­tance when it ap­proaches?”

This sug­ges­tion led to huge cel­e­bra­tions. There was ul­u­la­tion all around and the un­bri­dled joy was fol­lowed by moun­tains of food and an over­flow of cel­e­bra­tory drinks.

While the fes­tiv­i­ties con­tin­ued, an old grey mouse sat qui­etly in a cor­ner and did not par­take in the con­vivi­al­ity.

On be­ing asked, the old geezer re­sponded: “I see you are all ex­cited, but I have noth­ing to en­thuse about. As I sit here mus­ing, I am ask­ing my­self who will bell the cat? Can a mouse re­ally get that close to a cat that it can put a bell around its neck with­out be­ing eaten?” Spoil­sport! This brought an end to all the cel­e­bra­tions as re­al­ity hit home.

You may ask what the rel­e­vance of this anec­dote is in a sports col­umn.

I thought of the story as I cog­i­tated about the up­com­ing Fifa pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

You see, for the first time, South Africa has a huge in­ter­est in th­ese polls given that one of their own, busi­ness­man Tokyo Sexwale, is one of the con­tenders for the po­si­tion of world foot­ball’s il Capo di tuti capi (boss of all bosses).

How­ever, there is just a slight snag. Who will cast the vote for Safa come Fri­day? And who will the vote go to? Once upon a time, there were the Three Mus­ke­teers of South African foot­ball: the doc­tors (much as th­ese are hon­orary doc­tor­ates, known as honoris causa, or “a de­gree awarded with­out ex­am­i­na­tion” in learned cir­cles) Molefi Oliphant, Danny Jor­daan and Irvin Khoza.

From the early 2000s, the trio criss-crossed the globe seek­ing the right for South Africa to host the lu­cra­tive Fifa World Cup, con­tin­u­ing to do so af­ter the failed bid for the 2006 tour­na­ment un­til they fi­nally se­cured the rights for the 2010 shindig in May 2004. Such was the ster­ling job they did that Safa de­cided in July 2004 to pay them bonuses of R7 mil­lion each.

Then CEO Al­bert Mokoena was at pains to ex­plain where the money would come from.

“The money won’t come from ei­ther the spon­sors or Fifa (the in­ter­na­tional soc­cer body), but from Safa’s own cof­fers. The bonuses will be paid if and when money is avail­able,” he told the in­quis­i­tive hacks at the time.

Be­tween then and un­til very re­cently, the trio have made an end­less suc­ces­sion of trips to Zurich.

It be­came a com­mon re­sponse when the me­dia tried to get hold of any of them to be told that “he is in Zurich”.

That was un­til that fate­ful May 27 morn­ing last year when seven Fifa of­fi­cials were ar­rested just be­fore the start of the 65th Fifa congress by the FBI and Swiss law en­force­ment of­fi­cers.

The FBI men­tioned South Africa in its in­dict­ment as the coun­try that paid a $10 mil­lion bribe to se­cure the rights to host the 2010 World Cup.

The trips to Zurich have since pe­tered out.

Hence my pon­der­ing on who will cast the vote on be­half of Safa on Fri­day.

Also, it would be in­ter­est­ing to see whether Safa will abide by the Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball’s en­dorse­ment of Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Sheikh Sal­man Bin Ibrahim al-Khal­ifa and desert their own in Mr Sexwale, given that the lo­cal body’s pres­i­dent, Dr Jor­daan, is African con­fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Issa Hay­a­tou’s per­sonal ad­viser.

Quite in­ter­est­ing, one must say!

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