World Cup Fiver | Fifa’s ceremonial ostrich

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When President John F Kennedy stood up to address the USA! USA!! USA!!! at 3pm on 22 October 1962 to point out the severity of the Cuban missile crisis, he could barely have fathomed that 52 years later his country would still be involved in a sinister spat with their Russian cousins. But while JFK, Krushchev et al were at the sharp end of the Cold War, the political battlefield on which the two great nations fight today lends itself to another nickname: the Somewhat Tepid Contretemps perhaps? The Relatively Low Temperature Bickering? Or Football's Self-Importance Knows No Bounds Imbroglio.

Because, as ever, it falls upon football to take itself with such seriousness that the bloodshed, fighting and general horror that is currently the situation in the Ukraine pales into insignificance once football sticks its moneyed neb in. At the end of last week, US senators Dan Coats and Mark Kirk took one look at Russia's move into Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and decided that simply issuing the country with economic sanctions was small fry. Instead, they invoked the mightiest power in the world: football.

They've called for Vlad Putin's men to be turfed out of the World Cup on their backsides, just like Yugoslavia were from the 1992 European Championship and 1994 World Cup, and stripped of the right to host the 2018 tournament, because – and this is the best bit – it displays "a brazen disrespect for fundamental principles of Fifa". Not to be outdone on the pomposity stakes, Russian politicians Alexander Sidyakin and Michael Markelov were also keen to make the people who have died in Ukraine pale into insignificance compared to the travails of 22 blokes knocking a ball around a field. They wrote an open letter, that most self-effacing of missives, to Fifa to demand the USA! USA!! USA!!! also be thrown out of the World Cup. "It's an eye for an eye, a ball for a ball," hurrahed Sidyakin down the correct channels for international diplomacy, Twitter.

The world waits with bated breath as to what Fifa will decide. From his hollowed-out volcano in Switzerland, Sepp Blatter has a decision to make. Should he remove the World Cup from a country that has great wealth and a dubious regard for human rights, something his organisation has shown willingness to do in the past, or should he turf a country with great wealth and a dubious, etc and so on out of the World Cup. O Fiverão's money, if it had any, would be on the next Fifa buffet featuring both blinis and burgers stuffed with the nine tenths of Fifa's ceremonial ostrich which is not buried in the sand.


"He's a great player" – Pelé adds Neymar to his pantheon of World Cup stars, where he'll settle in alongside Nicky 'up there with Zidane' Barmby, Nicky 'passionate' Butt and Nii 'the next Pelé' Lamptey.


Nigeria Football Federation marketing director Adama Idris has criticised the country's fans for only buying 300 of the 11,200 tickets allocated to them. Nigeria's average wage = £936-a-year (70% below poverty line); average cheapest category World Cup ticket = £125; June flights from Nigeria to Brazil = £1,400. "People claim to be supporters of football, but they can't even buy tickets to support their team," trilled Idris.

France's minister for Industrial Renewal, Arnaud Montebourg, has lambasted the French Football Federation for getting their new World Cup strip made in Asia. "I don't understand how they can go get something done in Thailand that we can do very well at home," he sniffed. "The FFF can afford to do more so I'm not happy."

In a move that will see free speech quashed by the banishing of free speeches, Sepp Blatter has announced there will be no formal addresses at the World Cup opening ceremony after the boos and subsequent social unrest that followed Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff's comments at the opening match of the 2013 Confederations Cup.

São Paulo coach Muricy Ramalho has joined in the party spirit ahead of the World Cup. "They always promise a great World Cup with a legacy. That word seems to be the solution to everything. You spend billions and billions and talk about legacy. And all we see is a bad legacy. The money could have been spent on many other good things," he cheered.

The £174m Arena da Amazonia stadium in Manaus has been opened with a local match and been hailed a great success by everyone present … bar snobs who expect the roof not to leak on them, those wanting to sit in their allocated seat, hungry people or anyone hoping to use the toilets.

And Italy coach Cesare Prandelli says the side's only definite starter will be goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, and has warned Mario Balotelli he is not guaranteed a place in the squad. Meanwhile, the country's World Cup shirts will apparently be capable of delivering micro-massages while the players wear them – "a true Italian touch," crooned Buffon, leading Weird Uncle Fiver to get excited about what the shorts might do.


"Evidently, Uncle Sepp's myriad commercial partners are getting limited value for money if local resident Mike Royster (last week's O Fiverão letters) thinks that the humble quarter-pounder (or quarterão as he calls it) has nothing to do with The Sunkist Amstrad Gazprom Holsten Pils Chicken Cottage Fifa World Cup. And that's before I even mention Ronaldo or Adriano" – Ben Graham.

"I know England have a long and glorious history of self-destruction, but surely it's pushing it a bit far to describe them as having a desire to batter themselves (last week's Still Want More?)" – Matt Taylor (and 1,057 others).

• Send your letters to, with 'O Fiverão' in the subject line. Or just 'World Cup Fiver' if that's easier. And if you've nothing better to do you can also tweet the Fiver. The winner of our prizeless letter o' the week is: Ben Graham.


In the latest of our stunning World Cup moments, Ian McCourt outlines the similarities between Zinedine Zidane and Alan Pardew.

Having frizzed up his hair and made himself unpopular with the red half of Liverpool, Paul Wilson continues his Mr Roy impression by selecting his England side for him.

The entire history of football, including World Cup highlights-a-plenty, feature in Alex Bennett's amazing picture.

And get all the latest World Cup news on Big Website's dedicated site.


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