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By Tony Attwood
Just to be clear, a megalomaniac is a person who has an obsessive desire for power and just from everyday observation you might agree that Gianni Infantino fits that category. He has after all recently suggested that the world cup is so successful it ought to be held every three years rather than every four years.
And, with the compliance of the media, he has held a world cup in just about the most inhospitable and undemocratic environment there is the world (although I suppose Antarctica could excel on both those scores).
One might therefore think that at this moment there is no further to go but, megalomaniacs never rest. and so while making himself the centre of attention in Brazil as the country mourns the death of its hero, Infantino felt the obvious and immediate need to make himself the centre of attention.
And he did this with a simple statement. “We are going to ask all the countries in the world to name one of their stadiums in the name of Pelé,” he told reporters at the funeral. And the implication is that it can’t be a little stadium, it has to be a big one. Wembley perhaps in England. Or Old Trafford? Or maybe the new Newcastle United ground which will undoubtedly be announced in a year or so, taking the capacity up to 85,000 perhaps. It could be named St Pele’s Park. Or in Manchester Old Pele.
Speaking of Newcastle, their chief commercial officer recently said “Our ambition is to become the most supported English Premier League football team in Saudi Arabia,” so maybe the Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud Stadium is more likely.
Of course the Tottenham Hotspur stadium is not at all encumbered by sponsorship arrangements largely because no commercial organisation really wants to be associated with a club that has taken 115 years to win the League twice. So maybe they will take the money and we might have the HotPele Ground or the TotPele Stadium. Or even the PeleSpur Ground. Or in south London it could be Pele Palace.
But maybe it could be at Southampton where the lack of a ground sponsor obviously irks somewhat. They are after all the Saints so The Saint Pele Arena would work.
West Ham don’t have a ground sponsor other than as far as I can work out but then since they got their ground for free, and the state that paid for the ground didn’t even get a cut of the subsequent sponsorship deals, so I guess they don’t need one. Pretentiously their venue is called the London Stadium so that could easily be changed to the London Pele Stadium, or maybe just Pele London. Although I still prefer The Taxpayers’ Stadium.
Of course, it can’t be long before Infantino will believe that he himself has done enough for football to merit a stadium of his own and thus we can expect every nation’s main stadium to bear his name. WembleyTino perhaps. And indeed after that football itself could be renamed Infantinoball.
Now I know this sounds a bit far-fetched but then if you were paying attention on 1 December 2010 the thought that Qatar would actually be awarded the World Cup finals the following day you would have been deemed clinically insane. As insane in fact as the England bid (which got two votes in round one, one from Australia and one from, well, since you ask, England). Which apparently took the English delegation by surprise.
But with the power-crazed Infantino, still wanted for questioning on criminal charges in Switzerland for his conspiring with the head of the legal system to pervert the course of justice, there is no limit.
A great player who conducted himself with dignity has died in old age, so in jumps the semi-skinned Infantino to make himself the centre of attention. We would expect nothing else. So what next?
I suspect none of us will ever be able to think of it because it takes a singularly bizarre mind and personality to consider that the world could be Infantinolised. But that is what he is up to and that is what is happening.
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