Analysis

If we can't beat 'em, we'll blow 'em away

Charlotte Bauer

If the Egypt players were subject to terrible damage in Egypt, they were subject to terrible damage control in South Africa.

Whatever happened or didn’t happen in the Protea Hotel at Wanderers two Thursday nights ago, one thing’s for sure: the Egyptian national football team has been royally screwed.

But who by?

Following the juiciest off-sides story to come out of the Confederations Cup after Italy scored more points for couture (Dolce & Gabbana are team sponsors) than for football, doubts have been raised about the sense of humour of all concerned.

On the record, questions have been asked about the theft of wallets from certain Egypt players’ hotel rooms after that country’s surprise win over Italy. Did the victors seek a “happy ending” to a glorious night by hanging a right down Oxford Road on their way home to invite a few girls on the beautiful game to seal their joy?

Did the ladies “clean them out” afterwards, in the words of one scrupulously suspicious police officer? Was Egypt’s exit from the tournament three days later partly from stress caused to the players by these revelations, as was claimed by an enraged team spokesman, or was it the USA’s fault for beating them 3-0?

“The players have been subjected to terrible damage in Egypt,” hissed Mahmoud Taher at a press conference last Monday. “They are in a very bad mood right now.”

Well I should think they would be.

They must be kicking themselves harder than footballs for reporting the thefts in the first place. Then you have to imagine how tough it will be for those players who were tucked up in bed with a good book that night to zip their lips to protect those who didn’t zip anything. Worst of all, the disapproval of observant Muslim fans will pale by comparison to the disapproval of observant wives and girlfriends waiting for them back home.

Perhaps things are different in Egypt, but don’t sex and football go together? Like Posh and Becks. Cristal and rap. Fikile Mbalula and, um, Danny Jordaan.

If the Egypt players were subject to terrible damage in Egypt, they were subject to terrible damage control in South Africa.

Sensing yet another global plot to destabilise our country, the deputy minister of police and the 2010 LOC chief didn’t lose a moment.

Jordaan, ever vigilant about negative perceptions of crime, leapt to the defence of our gentle nation, which is like an ashram with cars, really.

On Monday he said that players the world over lose money all the time, so what was the big deal? He left it to Mbalula to explain what they really thought about Team Egypt’s claim to have been burgled by real burglers. “If you bring people into the hotel as friends you must take responsibility for them,” Mbalula snickered. “We can’t follow them up to your room.”

South Africans, he insinuated, weren’t born yesterday and, as far as he was concerned, we were off the hooker.

It was hilarious, until last Wednesday, when Jordaan retracted everything and agreed with the Egypt squad’s own spin: the media—which as everyone knows is the most vicious tribe in our peace-loving land—had made it all up. And with that, the police wandered off to investigate the ransacking of the Brazil squad’s hotel rooms instead, leaving the Pharoahs spinning in their tombs.

By Thursday, it looked unlikely that the chilled Brazilians would be put off their game by a spot of looting and we were forced to resort to a different kind of blowjob in an attempt to distract them from winning the semifinal—the vuvuzela.

Ever since Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso tried to get it banned from the Confederations Cup for making a bloody awful racket and putting him off his stride, South Africans have embraced the vuvuzela like a reliable version of Benni McCarthy. My family has dropped the piano and taken up vuvuzela lessons.

At the Spain-South Africa match in Bloemfontein the weekend before last I had a chance to experience the beauty of the vuvuzela. I, too, had thought it sounded like an elephant with a nest of scorpions up its trunk.

But in a stadium you are inside the sound—and the sound is a perfect accompaniment to what author Paul Auster, who argues that football is a serious yet safe pantomime of war in peacetime, calls “the mock battles waged by the surrogate armies in short pants —”

So, if we can’t beat ‘em, we’ll blow ‘em away.

“I always said that going to Africa will be noisy,” said that wily old Fifa tyrant, Sepp Blatter.

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