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The dogged devotion of Chelsea fans to Roman Abramovich...

Defend Truth

Opinionista

Get a grip, Chelsea fans – there’s a war in Europe with real consequences

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Toby Shapshak is publisher of Stuff (Stuff.co.za) and Scrolla.Africa.

It’s easy to forget the true cost of corruption in millions of impoverished Russians when your soccer team is winning.

When I booked my first flight since lockdown last Friday, I didn’t even check the prices of other airlines. Price used to be the most important criteria for booking a flight until I encountered the professionalism and reliability of FlySafair.

Not only are they reliable, they have also thought through the user experience in a way that other airlines simply haven’t. Before Covid, when I arrived at the airport, I got an SMS telling me which gate to go to. The emailed boarding pass was cleverly designed to be viewed on a mobile phone – “doh!” as Homer Simpson likes to say – because that is the default device we all use. If you printed out the PDF, it was cleverly designed to fold into four, with the boarding pass on the top. It was a pleasure to fly with them not just because they had updated their way of dealing with passengers and provided them with the right format for their smartphones but also because FlySafair was always on time.

They’ve simultaneously nailed the technology and the customer experience.

So it was by a strange fluke that I was flying out of Cape Town International Airport on Saturday. I thought the airport was so quiet because it was a Saturday. It turns out BA and Kulula were grounded for safety concerns.

What amazed me the most was the backlash on suicidal media about the suspension of the airlines’ flying licences.

Complain about the airlines if you want (and let me know how many of those angry Twitter rants result in any action) but why attack the Civil Aviation Authority? What should the CAA do? It’s not like an engine problem or a flat tyre that you can pull over to the side of the road and repair, is it?

Why attack a safety watchdog whose actual job is to prevent planes from falling out of the sky?

People are weird. It’s the shoot-the-messenger psychosis. The bearer of the bad news is somehow worse than the bad news itself.

It might be a proximity thing. People lash out at the closest target, even if it’s the life guard coming to help a drowning swimmer.

I’ve watched an alternative narrative emerge that argues against the “Marvelisation” of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, warning against turning him into a hero. I might have misunderstood the nuances of this navel-gazing media argument, because he’s actually fighting a war against Team Russian soldiers shelling hospitals. Sure, there’s time for a debate on how people get glorified or vilified too easily. But really? Can we wait until the war is over before debating whether Winston Churchill was lionised too much?

Some people really do have too much time, and can’t quite grasp there’s an actual war with real-world consequences.  

After three weeks of an unnecessary war and the unspeakable suffering of ordinary people, it’s almost as if this is Vladimir Putin’s last putsch to be part of history.

What has truly puzzled me is the dogged devotion of Chelsea fans to Roman Abramovich. People seem oblivious to how he earned his billions and how many ordinary Russians have paid the price in poverty for his wholesale corruption. It’s easy to forget the true cost of corruption in millions of impoverished Russians when your team is winning.

It’s like if Atul Gupta bought a football club with profits from ripping off Transnet by buying “too-tall” trains and is now being defended for “how much he has done for the club”.

It’s self-serving navel-gazing nonsense we hear from ANC politicians still trying to claim their fraud and corruption charges are “part of factional battles”.

If bad people use their ill-gotten gains to buy sports teams, they’re still bad people and the money is still stolen. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.

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  • 100% Toby. FlySafair are the best by far. Use them every month between Jozi and George. I don’t think there is much difference between Abramovich and Ramaphosa. I have advised my kids to become politicians or to befriend a politician. You can never make their sort of money by being an honest Joe.

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