Unless you have been living under a rock (or in North Korea) for the last few years, you will have felt the effects of the global economic downturn, and the multi-million dollar world of international football is by no means impervious to the fiscal environment: the England team has been reduced to having their hair cut by Emile Heskey, TV networks have been reduced to showing adverts when they would normally show goals and Robbie Earle has had to resort to touting tickets to attractive women to supplement his lowly six-figure punditry contract.
To add to their ever-growing list of woes, the French national team were last week criticized by Secretary of State for Sports Rama Yade for choosing fancy South African digs for the tournament (pictured above, apparently with the Christmas decorations still up). "Personally, I wouldn't have chosen this hotel," Yade remarked, asking the French Football Federation to "show decency" at a time when the nation is struggling economically. It's a fair assertion, and one that Spain is conscious of, as they're staying at a university campus (which might explain why they played like a university team earlier today). However, investigative satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaine has uncovered some top-class hypocrisy, as Yade had booked herself into a five-star hotel that costs even more than the players' opulent base. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:
The minister was due to spend two nights in a five-star hotel in Georgetown where a junior suite at 667 Euros [US$820] a night had been reserved for her. Five other rooms at 340 Euros [US$420] had been booked for her staff, the newspaper claimed.
Her room was slightly costlier than the 589 Euros [US$725] being paid for each of the players' rooms.
The paper reported that Yade wanted to cancel the booking but the bill had already been paid and the hotel was not prepared to reimburse the ministry.
To save face, Yade stayed in a French consul, but the embarrassing bill - and the fact that her entire trip is estimated to have cost the French taxpayer 45,000 Euros ($55,000) - has served the Hypocrisy Gods well.
If it's any consolation to the enraged French population, it doesn't look like the team will be needing accommodations after next week, if their last outing is anything to go by.
- Rama Yade