Gerry Cox, Durban
IT HAS to be said: The World Cup is rubbish, and it's FIFA's fault.
This is not the bitterness of an Englishman after Frank Lampard's goal was disallowed by myopic officials - I blame Fabio Capello and some of his players squarely for England's defeat by Germany.
Nor is it just another little voice of protest against the horrendous Jabulani ball, which people far better qualified than me - Diego Maradona, for example - have condemned as unfit for purpose.
No, if I counted all the injustices in this tournament, both on and off the field, and the resulting spectacle, there is only one conclusion - FIFA are not fit to run the competition.
Even if you put to one side the economic totalitarianism of FIFA in riding roughshod over local businesses, you have to say the product on the pitch has fallen way below the standards expected. If it were a meal you would send it back, if it were a item of clothing you would take it back. It is sub-standard rubbish, and FIFA are to blame.
It is FIFA, remember, who insulted the Irish nation not once but twice; first belittling Ireland's attempts to get justice for the Hand of Henry incident, and secondly by refusing to countenance the simple, logical and cost-free measure that would help rid the game of such miscarriages of justice.
They did not just rule out video technology for this World Cup after Henry's scandalous cheating, they declared the debate over for the foreseeable future. FIFA effectively said they would never consider using video technology to help referees to avoide the kind of mistakes that end up making them look either incompetent or crooked. Rugby uses replays, cricket uses them, tennis, athletics and racing have electronic eyes to assist with crucial decisions, so why not football. Even the
Germans agreed that what happened when Lampard's 'goal'was disallowed despite bouncing two feet over the line, should not be allowed to occur
in 2010. It seems incredible that when a worldwide audience of billions can watch for themselves, over and over again from multiple angles until it is incontrovertible, the only person not allowed to see the evidence is the man who must make the all-important decision.
It is like withholding evidence from a judge and jury, or asking blindfolding the judges of an art competition.
It is not as if the Lampard and Henry cases are one-offs. What about Carlos Tevez's offside goal against Mexico, or Kaka's sending-off? Players rage at the injustice and a global audience laughs or cries at the incompetence of the officials.
Should we be surprised that FIFA refuse to act? Not really, because for all their hollow campaigns, equality, fair play and the love of the
beautiful game appear to come some way behind the desire to make money.
What else can explain their persistence with the ball that makes it nigh-on impossible for some of the world's greatest players to control. Listen to Gomes, the Brazil goalkeeper: "It is a horrible ball. It is not just bad for keepers, but strikers too. When you play with a normal ball you can play beautiful football, but not with this ball. It is impossible. Players like Cristiano Ronaldo like to strike the ball from long distance but even he cannot get it on target. I am sure you would
have more goals and free-kicks scored if we had a normal ball instead of this one."
Daniel Agger said it make players look like drunken sailors, while Diego Maradona arguably the greatest of them all, said: "I've tried it myself (in training). This ball doesn't go round the corner, and you can't get in a good cross to the far post because the ball flies straight. We are not going to see any good moves in this World Cup because no one can get the ball and control it.”
In any other competition, if the standard of play was so low and the number of goals so badly affected, surely they would listen to the majority of players and coaches who pintpoint the ball as the reason why. When Cristiano Ronaldo cannot get a free-kick on target in 270 minutes of football, when Lionel Messi overhits passes, and Wayne Rooney looks like a park player with this ball at his feet, there has to be something wrong.
But what will they do? Sweet FIFA, which is why they should have the World Cup taken off them until they show they are up to the task of running it properly.
It will never happen, of course, and I suspect it will just get worse and worse. So having started off by saying this World Cup is rubbish, perhaps we should make the most of it while we can!