Blatter's banter

FIFA president Sepp Blatter hurdled a potential embarrassment about his personal links with the disciplinary committee chairman with his quick wit, notes Martyn Ziegler in his World Cup diary.

FIFA always make a big song and dance about their disciplinary panel being an autonomous body ... so there was some potential embarrassment when Sepp Blatter was questioned about his personal links with Marcel Mathier, the lawyer who is the committee's chairman. As it turned out, Blatter dealt with the question rather well.

"Yes, Marcel Mathier worked for me privately on one occasion very many years ago," said the FIFA president. "He was my team-mate as a football player and he drafted my marriage contract.

"The marriage didn't last very long..." Getting spiritual

Franz Beckenbauer's nine years as head of the Germany World Cup bid team and then the organising committee have clearly driven him to seek spiritual guidance.

Beckenbauer has already proclaimed that the mixtures of nationalities, races and religions in the fan parks are a reflection of God's vision. Now he has suggested that the celestial being is fixing the weather for the World Cup too. He said: "Perhaps God wanted it. Look at the opening match in Munich, that was the day summer started. Before that we were wearing overcoats and it was snowing above 800m."

Now if the Kaiser could perhaps have a word to make it a little less humid...


Chelsea's French defender William Gallas has forgotten all his English since arriving in Germany. Questioned by a British reporter before the semi-final with Portugal, Gallas replied: "Je ne parle pas l'anglais."

When the reporter said he knew quite well that Gallas spoke very good English the Chelsea defender persisted and gave his answer in French.

Debilitating kick

Police are looking for pranksters who left six footballs filled with concrete around Berlin's Fan Mile — and caused two young men to end up in hospital with foot injuries. The balls were tied to trees and lamp-posts with nearby posters asking "Can u kick it?".

Two men, aged 21 and 23, did try and received injuries so severe they had to have hospital treatment.

Self-righteous ref

Referees chief Angel Maria Villar Llona has had a pop at the players in the World Cup for making the lives of match officials that much harder. Is that the same Angel Maria Villar Llona, a former Spanish international no less, who was once sent off for punching Johan Cruyff in the face?

Hooked on Perudo

If Brazil had indeed beaten France and gone on to win the World Cup, they would have owed a debt to another South American country — and the man whose strike put them out of the tournament, France's Thierry Henry.

In the pressure-packed environment of international football's most prestigious tournament, the Brazilians were staying relaxed by playing the ancient Peruvian dice game of Perudo. Midfielder Gilberto Silva said Arsenal team-mate Henry suggested the activity. "It was Henry who suggested I bring this game with me to Germany," Gilberto said. "He thought La Selecao (the squad) might like it."

Kaka, Juninho, Fred, Rogerio Ceni and Cris were all hooked on it.

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