Racism at the highest level, countless corruption allegations, match-fixing enquiries worldwide, disrespect for our sacred poppy, the never-ending demands for video technology; FIFA is under pressure from every angle and now faces a new controversy following last Sunday's big Blues v Purples match in Surin, eastern Thailand. The Purples' tricky No.7 was both the star of the show and the centre of the controversy - let's call him, for no special reason, Luis - for three times he raced through the heavy footed Blues' defence with the ball tucked under his trunk. Twice Luis uncurled shots at goal from close range only for them to be blocked by the Blues' massive No.2, and the other time he was foiled by his own last-minute miscontrol, but the Purples' goal was scored with a similar maneuvre by the gigantic No.9 who was clearly inspired by Luis's display. Oh, this was an elephant football match, by the way. The players were all elephants. Literally elephants, Jamie. Elephants.
I made a 22 hour round trip from Bangkok to watch this match, and it was barely worth it, for it's not often you get to see a match featuring players of such phenomenal natural strength, grey leathery skin and big flappy ears; neither is it common (at least in the SPL; I don't watch English football) to see a defender caught out by a through ball because he is too busy defecating on the pitch. Fortunately for the huge centre-back, this piece of sloppy defending went unpunished.
The match finished 1-1 after a sclaffed goal-kick by the Purples' goalkeeper landed right at the toes of the Blues' really very large No.9 who, showing good feet for a five tonne septegenarian, turned and sclaffed a shot straight back to the goalkeeper, who in turn sclaffed the ball backwards and between his own posts. The goalscorer - who we'll call Zlatan, in preference to Peter, so as to not confuse readers of my next giraffe match report - celebrated by reaching his nose-arm into the crotch of a surprised team-mate, who was then lucky not to see red for a Rooney-like kick out at the offender. Direct nasal-genital groping or not, provocation is not an excuse.
At full-time the match went to penalties, which were won 1-0 by the Blues, who thereby displayed more accuracy from the spot than the Brazil national human male squad did at the Copa America. Despite their triumph, the Blues trudged off the pitch as if they had no idea what their victory truly meant. I'm glad I'm not a fan.
Back to the main controversy: does the definition of handball include the trunk-dribble? Elephants already have four limbs which are uncontroversially feet, because they are required for the elephant to stand, walk and run. The trunk is like a nose on the end of an arm, it's not very much like a foot at all. Let's ditch the legal mumbo-jumbo ("definition" etc.): it looks like handball. In fact, an elephant running at a line of other elephants with a ball wrapped in its trunk looks near-identical to a game of rugby, which would certainly not be worth travelling halfway across the world to report on. Elephant rugby? That's just stupid.