TOP TIP – When attending FIFA Press Conferences, never ever wear a Shrewsbury Town T-shirt with SALOP emblazed across it!
Salope in French means whore or slut. I felt very uncomfortable with Jermone Valcke the FIFA Secretary General staring at me during the proceedings!
After the epic press conference where FIFA discussed the Qatar and Russia World Cups with the media, it was off to the football pitches adjacent to the stadium for 15 minutes of Real Madrid training.
According to the Real Madrid snappers, when they have a game of huge importance that they take very seriously, they train as far away from the photographers and TV as they can.
This was no exception. For the record when they played Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League they were so close, cameramen were shouting at them to go away.
And so to the final, but first it was the Third Place play off. I was too wrapped up in following the English scores on the internet that there were only 10 minutes until kick off when I entered the pitch.
In the first half the internet worked fine. Its a pity that the football was so bad that I had immense difficulty supplying my Mexico people with images to flood their homeland with.
In typical fashion, I then got some nice action…
But it took the IT people 33 minutes to reconnect me.
As the sun set in Marrakech, Cruz Azul got an equaliser and the game went to penalties.
I should write more about the mighty Auckland City finishing third in the FIFA Club World Cup but I was more startled at Cruz Azul…
After missing their penalty to reward their New Zealand opponents a 4-2 penalty shoot out victory, the players ignored their fans who traveled over 9,000KM and just walked off the pitch.
Perhaps that is normal in their culture, in some European countries they would be spitting blood.
And so to the final. Real Madrid v San Lorenzo.
This time despite more info from my friend Margarita in Argentina who earlier in the week informed me that The Pope was almost a family friend, I now learn her Grand Uncle was the President of San Lorenzo Football Club.
Cristiano looked pretty against lots of mobile phones with their flash lights on…
Whilst Real Madrid had their picture taken with the Crown Prince Moulay Hassan of Morocco.
Perhaps because I had just photographed the game from hell where nothing happened – for pictures anyway – the first 10-20 minutes of this contest was enthralling. I thought the referee was going to send off so many players that we would be back again tomorrow for a re-match. Not because he was bad, but because both teams were trying every trick in the book to hold players back, cheat, pull shirts, push whilst running around so fast I thought some of them may have a heart attack with their epic man marking.
Ramos scored the opening goal – blocked for me and then he ran in the opposite direction.
At half time I swapped ends so to do Real Madrid again in the second half. I could not see The Pope in the crowd and my gut feeling was that San Lorenzo could not beat the European Champions.
The evening belonged to Gareth Bale down my lens. Shouting in my best Welsh accent – GARRRRRRRRRRR-eth to ensure he got my attention before posing with the FIFA Club World Cup trophy.
Not one bit.
The Crown Prince’s security men standing ridiculously close to the heir of the Moroccan throne which resulted in the ever helpful (said in a sincere way) Alain our friendly FIFA media officer literally push him out of the way. At one moment I thought he was going to close-line him like a wrestler.
It resulted in being blocked for THE moment of THE end of the tournament – one could argue THE end moment to the end of the 2013-2014 season. All those matches in all the world leagues, all the subsequent matches in all the global continents with the six winners traveling from all four corners of the world to participate in this wonderful tournament.
but then… WOO HOO a clean view..
Television then 1-0’d us and by the time we had a clear view, the moment of Real Madrid lifting the trophy was over.
The aftermath provided some arty material but THE moment had gone.
Hopefully when I am back in Japan next year, there will be no Royal visitors on the pitch, no security guards and I can come away with better pictures.