You have to be streetwise in this game

It has often been said that football, unlike any other business or sporting code, needs those involved in it to also be somewhat streetwise.

It has often been said that football, unlike any other business or sporting code, needs those involved in it to also be somewhat streetwise.

Unfortunately, those who want to be academic about it have always missed this important fact in their arguments on how the game should be administered.

We have had a number of such discussions in which people would advocate for corporate types to be brought into the running of organisations such as the South African Football Association (Safa) whenever something seems to go wrong.

This column has from time to time tried to point out that the football scenario is a different ball game (if you'll excuse the pun) to any other in that one has an advantaged if one has grown with and in the sport.

A number of previous occasions have shown that while the educated do have an advantage in so-called corporate governance in sports, football from grassroots level is a different kettle of fish.

Remember Mandla Mchunu, Joe Ndlhela and others of their ilk? They had the right "credentials" but failed in their endeavours to change the culture of the administration of the beautiful game.

The reason we are writing this column and for the need for those in football administration to be streetwise is because once more the Federation of International Football Associations (Fifa) has engaged in a "turnaround" that only a few can relate to, and they are in the inner circle.

The president of Fifa, Sepp Blatter, has once again proven that he belongs to this exclusive group and is a master of the streets around the world.

A season or so ago, when Roger de Sa successfully got Bidvest Wits University relegated to the Mvela Golden League and was asked if he would go down with the club, he said he didn't think they were streetwise enough to be involved in a comeback.

Well, he was proved wrong by Boebie Solomons who came up to Gauteng all the way from the Cape Flats with all his street savvy and Wits bounced back after just one season in the wilderness.

Now, rewind a few years and recap on what the honourable Blatter said when he addressed the world on why the World Cup should rotate around the continents so that everybody could have a bite at the game of billions.

That is how Africa came to be awarded its first ever World Cup to be hosted by us in 2010. That was a master stroke for the Fifa boss as he was able to fix the mess created by one Charles Dempsey, who had also acted in the very same streetwise manner to deprive us of the last World Cup, which was given to Germany on one vote.

Because you have elections in such organisations, Blatter knew that to keep his presidency he had to do some fancy footwork.

He rightly advocated rotation and gave Africa first bite and South Africa the nod to host this historic occasion.

We forgot about Dempsey and the South Americans were also as delighted because they were assured of the 2014 event likely to be hosted by Brazil, who are the only bidders anyway.

With that safely out of the way and Blatter having visited South Africa so many times and being satisfied with the progress towards a successful 2010 World Cup, he tells the United States, who were in line for 2018, that it may not be necessarily so.

The Fifa supremo is now singing a different tune and claims that "we have realised it's not important where the World Cup is played concerning its impact. The product nowadays, for emotion, for passion, for bringing people together is such. that it is not so important where you play".

He said: "Now the executive committee is confronted with the question: What will happen next? If we go on this rotation system as it is, the next one should go to the CONCACAF.

"On the other hand, you have people asking that every third time, the World Cup should come back to Europe. Why?"

The rotation system is set to be scrapped. Watch this space.

Blatter doesn't need to be around as president until the 2018 World Cup, and being streetwise he has been able to have his cake and eat it.

Something Dali Mpofu should think about. This is football, my friend.