Bad Vlad stole my swim – let’s ban Chelsea as punishment


I’m in the parking lot at Durban’s North Beach, swapping my shorts for a pair of baggies ahead of a quick dip in the ocean to break the heat ahead of a day’s slaving when the mobile goes.

It’s early, so there’s plenty of time for a bit of a frolic in the water and to get home again before the work starts.

The towel I’m using to change behind drops to the tarmac as I make a grab for the phone, which in turn hits the deck as I try — unsuccessfully it turns out — to retrieve my fallen pardah.

Fortunately, the phone lands on my towel, so it’s still beeping when I catch it on the first bounce.

There’s nobody around except the uncle who earns a living by keeping the surfers’ car keys while they’re in the water, so my modesty, like the mobile — but not my sense of dignity — remains intact.

I check the phone.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has effectively declared war on Ukraine. 

Airstrikes have taken out Ukranian military airfields and army headquarters and ground forces have entered the two separatist areas in the east of the country, with another offensive taking place via neighbouring Belarus. 

While the rest of us have been in bed, Putin’s decided to invade his neighbour and kick off the imperial war that Joe Biden and Boris Johnson have been accusing Vlad the Lad of wanting to start.


You go to sleep in the Ukraine and wake up in Russia.

I’m shocked, not so much by the invasion per se — Putin’s been gagging to kick things off for real in Ukraine since the ceasefire between its government and Russian backed separatists in 2014, but by the fact that Johnson was — for what may be the first time in his life — actually telling the truth.

I wonder what sanctions Pretoria will come up with to get Bad Vlad to call off his invasion, given that the wheels came off the Russian power station deal that our former head of state wanted so desperately to take place? 

A ban on Russian sausages and Stoli? 

No more letting Russian nationals into Mzansi as horse groomers on the scarce skills list?

Perhaps, although a few platitudes about world peace, multilateralism and the need for diplomacy from Foreign Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor while we wait to follow China’s lead are more likely.

I assume that’s it as far as the Champion’s League final being played in St Petersburg is concerned. 

Uefa may be as tone deaf as Fifa when it comes to human rights violations, military coups and the like, but surely even they won’t allow a final to be played in a country that invaded its neighbour?

Word has it that the British government has already put the screws on Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, whom they have identified as one of Bad Vlad’s key oligarch mates, and have banned him from the UK.

Fair deal.

Chelsea have inflicted far too much pain on Arsenal since Roman bought The Blues in 2003, so I’m up for payback, however it comes.

Why stop there?

Surely the English Football Association will do the right thing and ban Chelsea from the Premier League given its oligarchic ownership — and give the Gooners a crack at third place, rather than fourth?

Likewise Uefa — surely Chelsea, still in the Champions League after their 2-0 over Lille, should be banned from defending their title until Vlad pulls the troops out.

Take back last year’s winners’ medals.

Confiscate the trophy from Stamford Bridge.

The phone goes again.

It’s worse.

There’s nobody available to file a quick story on what the South African government has to say about the invasion — if they’re out of bed yet — and the bosses are looking for a willing body to rouse the good people at the department of international relations and cooperation from their slumber and hammer out a quick 350 words before the rest of the country gets online.

I could ignore the message, go for my swim and carry on regardless; act like I didn’t see it; wait for somebody else to pick up the job. 

Nobody would know — except me.

I bag the phone, put my shorts on and start making my way home, the swim forgotten. I’ll have to settle for a cold shower after I file.

Thanks, Vlad.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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