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THE INVERSE OF ZAPP BRANNIGAN

WEEKLY WHINE

Schmilblick Patrol: Michel Platini

Edvard: Hey! Hello everyone! Thank you! Yes! Thank you everyone! Welcome to GoobNet’s Adventures of the Schmilblick Patrol! It’s the game where you can win fantastic prizes for guessing how people work. Unless, of course, you happen to be unlucky enough to be playing on a day on which the selected prizes are lousy. But the big question is: Is this such a day? To find out, we’ll have to meet our participant for today. He’s had a long career in football, both on and off the pitch. You remember him best as a legendary player who was one vertex of the famous carré magique for France in the 1980s. He played in three Men’s World Cups and one Men’s European Championship – but it was a good one. He scored nine goals, six more than anyone else, as he led les Bleus to their first European title. After he hung up his boots, he remained part of the footballing world, including serving as cochair of the organising committee for the 1998 Men’s World Cup in France. So, please welcome the president of the Union of European Football Associations, Michel Platini!

Michel: Hello Edvard.

Edvard: Hello, Michel. Welcome to the programme. We’re awfully excited to have you with us today.

Michel: Thank you. I am pleased to be here.

Edvard: Are you ready to meet our patrollers for today?

Michel: Yes, I am.

Edvard: Great. Here they are. First, here is Jean from Montpellier, France.

Jean: Hello.

Edvard: From Spornham, MA, USA, we have Marie-Lucille.

Marie-Lucille: Hello.

Edvard: And Adrienne from Bethesda, MD, USA.

Adrienne: Good day.

Edvard: Welcome to all of you, and good luck today. Or should I say, bonne chance.

Michel: That’s good.

Edvard: And that’s all the French I know. Thank you everyone. All right, Michel. Please tell us what your Schmilblick is today.

Michel: My Schmilblick is: Why I championed the idea to hold Euro 2020 throughout the European continent.

Edvard: Why you championed the idea to hold the 2020 Men’s European Championship in many different host nations. Good. Well, that sounds like it could be difficult for our patrollers. But if you can determine that Schmilblick, you’ll all be headed to Men’s Euro 2020. We’ll fly you to a match of your choice every other day, for the entire tournament, with airfare, match tickets, and hotels all taken care of. If you can’t identify Michel’s Schmilblick within your eighteen queries, though, he will win. Michel, we will send you to Washington, DC, USA, where Adrienne teaches contemporary French culture. We’ll take you to a class of your choice every other day, for the entire semester, with cab fare, class tickets, and dorms all taken care of. So, big prizes are indeed on offer today. Patrollers, are you ready?

Marie-Lucille: Ready.

Jean: Yes.

Adrienne: I’m ready!

Edvard: Michel, are you ready?

Michel: I am ready.

Edvard: Then let’s go on patrol! Jean, you have the first question.

Jean: Hello Monsieur Platini.

Michel: Call me Michel, please.

Jean: All right. Michel, it is an honour to meet you.

Michel: Thank you.

Jean: My question is: Do you want more nations to participate in hosting the European Championship?

Michel: Yes, I do.

Edvard: But that’s not your Schmilblick.

Michel: No, it is not.

Edvard: Okay. Good start. We know Michel wants more participation in tournament hosting. That is one question down and seventeen to go. Marie-Lucille, you may ask your first question now.

Marie-Lucille: Hello Michel.

Michel: Hello Marie-Lucille.

Marie-Lucille: My question is... um... oh, I know. Do you believe that the tournament has become so large that no one country can successfully host it?

Michel: No, I believe that a single country could host it.

Edvard: You do?

Michel: Yes.

Edvard: Interesting. Well, that is two down and sixteen to go. We’ll get to our next question in a moment, but first, we’re at that point wherein we take a moment to get to know our patrollers. Adrienne, hi.

Adrienne: Hi Edvard.

Edvard: You live in Bethesda, MD, USA.

Adrienne: Yes.

Edvard: Near Washington, DC?

Adrienne: Yes. In fact, I work in Washington.

Edvard: Yes, we mentioned that you teach French culture.

Adrienne: Yes. I teach contemporary French culture at George Washington University.

Edvard: Are students interested in learning French culture?

Adrienne: Oh, yes. Very much. Most of my students have been very eager to learn about the culture in France.

Edvard: So they don’t view the French the way The Simpsons does.

Adrienne: “Cheese eating surrender monkeys”? No, not at all. French culture has so much to offer students.

Edvard: Great. Well, let’s have your first question of the day.

Adrienne: Certainly. Michel, you believe that a single country could host the Euros. But you believe that a single country should not host them?

Michel: No, I believe that any country that has the resources should put forward a candidacy for a future tournament, and we will consider it.

Edvard: Okay. Well, things are getting a bit more complicated, it seems. Three down and fifteen to go now. Jean, hello.

Jean: Good day Edvard.

Edvard: From Montpellier in France.

Jean: Yes.

Edvard: What is it you do there?

Jean: I am a student.

Edvard: Studying what?

Jean: Agriculture.

Edvard: Really? That’s neat. And what would you like to do as a career?

Jean: I would like to help to improve land use in other countries. There are many countries where there is a great deal of arable land, but it is not being put to good use. The land either is not put to proper use, or it is not treated correctly. I hope to help other nations with this.

Edvard: Well, that’s wonderful. Thank you for doing that. Good luck in your studies. And let’s have your next question for Michel.

Jean: Michel, do you believe that there are some European nations that should not host the European Championship?

Michel: No. I encourage any nation that is willing to submit a bid to host a future tournament.

Edvard: Well, I think we have reached the political evasion portion of our programme today. Nonetheless, that is four down and fourteen to go. Marie-Lucille, hi.

Marie-Lucille: Hello.

Edvard: You are from Spornham, MA, USA.

Marie-Lucille: Yes.

Edvard: Doing what?

Marie-Lucille: I am a sign gorilla.

Edvard: A what?

Marie-Lucille: A sign gorilla. I wear a gorilla costume, stand by the side of the road, and wield a sign that points the way to a local place of business.

Edvard: What sort of place of business?

Marie-Lucille: Normally, I hold the “We Buy Gold” sign for a pawn shop.

Edvard: Well, that’s interesting. When you said “sign gorilla”, I was thinking something different.

Marie-Lucille: Were you thinking of Koko?

Edvard: What’s that?

Marie-Lucille: Koko, the sign language gorilla. That is what most people think of when I say “sign gorilla”.

Edvard: Wait. There’s a sign language gorilla? A gorilla that knows sign language?

Marie-Lucille: Yes, Koko. She is in northern California.

Edvard: That’s weird.

Marie-Lucille: Well, I think it is weird that you have never heard of her.

Edvard: We didn’t have such things in the Netherlands.

Marie-Lucille: So what were you thinking when I said “sign gorilla”?

Edvard: You know when they do construction? There’s a guy holding the stop sign? I thought maybe that was called a sign gorilla.

Marie-Lucille: You thought the stop sign guy was a gorilla?

Edvard: No, I thought the job was called “sign gorilla”.

Marie-Lucille: Oh. Well, maybe it is, but I refer to my job with that name.

Edvard: Great. Well, that’s more than we ever needed to know about costumed sign waving, I’m sure. So let us have your next question, please, Marie-Lucille.

Marie-Lucille: Oh, yes. I have forgotten what the last question was.

Michel: Whether I believe some nations should not host the tournament.

Marie-Lucille: Of course. I remember. Michel, do you believe that there are some nations that should not be solo hosts of the tournament?

Michel: I think that some countries are simply too small geographically to support such an event, yes.

Edvard: Vatican 2024?

Michel: I believe that is unlikely.

Edvard: Good. All right, well, that’s five down, thirteen to go. Back over to you, Adrienne. Your next question, please.

Adrienne: Michel, do you believe that this plan gives hosting opportunities to more nations that would not otherwise have those opportunities?

Michel: Yes, I do.

Edvard: But that is not your Schmilblick either.

Michel: No, it is not.

Edvard: All right. Six down, twelve to go. And we go back over to you, Jean. Let us have your third question.

Jean: Michel, do you think it will be difficult for teams to travel between countries in the middle of a tournament?

Michel: I believe it will be different, but not overly difficult.

Edvard: So, no?

Michel: No, it will not be unmanageably difficult.

Edvard: But there will be some additional difficulty.

Michel: A small amount.

Edvard: So, yes?

Michel: I believe it will be manageable.

Edvard: So you believe it will be difficult, but not preventably so.

Michel: Correct.

Edvard: Then that counts as a yes. That is seven down and eleven to go. We return to you, Marie-Lucille. What will you ask?

Marie-Lucille: Michel, is this just a subtle attempt for you to accumulate more frequent flyer kilometres?

Edvard: Well, a bit of a change here. Marie-Lucille has gone for the direct approach. Michel, do you have an ulterior motive here?

Michel: No.

Edvard: This plan was not merely a cheap ploy to get more airfare kilometres?

Michel: No, it was not.

Edvard: Not even a contributing factor?

Michel: I was told not to answer any additional questions from you.

Edvard: Really? Who told you that?

Michel: I am sorry, but I cannot answer.

Edvard: Well, that’s silly. It is also eight down and ten to go. We come back to you, Adrienne.

Adrienne: Was the frequent flyer thing a contributing factor?

Michel: It was.

Edvard: Wait, what?

Michel: Yes. Several on the committee were convinced by that argument.

Edvard: Wow. So that’s awfully concerning. But it is not your Schmilblick, and so we proceed on. It is nine down and nine to go. We have reached the midway point in the questioning, and our patrollers, all of whom are French today, are trying to determine the Schmilblick of UEFA president Michel Platini, which is why he is in favour of holding Men’s Euro 2020 throughout Europe. We come back to you, Jean. Your question, please.

Jean: Michel, bidding for the 2020 tournament was already underway when you made the announcement. Was this a response to the quality of the existing bids?

Michel: No, it was not. The bids that we received were very good.

Edvard: A joint bid from Georgia and Azerbaijan, another from Scotland, Wales, and the Republic of Ireland, plus a solo bid from Turkey.

Michel: Those bids were all of very high quality, yes. I believe all of the nations concerned should bid to participate in the tournament.

Edvard: All right. Ten down and eight to go, then. Marie-Lucille?

Marie-Lucille: Michel, you have said that this is currently planned as a single event. But do you think that every Euro tournament could be held across Europe at some point in the future?

Edvard: Interesting question here. Could this be a regular fixture?

Michel: At the moment, we have no plans to hold any future Euro tournaments in such a format, no.

Edvard: But it’s not being ruled out entirely.

Michel: It could be done again in the future, if this is successful.

Edvard: Okay. That is eleven down and seven to go. Adrienne, you have the next question.

Adrienne: Michel, is the purpose of this plan to irritate Sepp Blatter?

Michel: Yes, it is. And that is my Schmilblick.

Edvard: It is? Really?

Michel: Yes.

Edvard: I don’t understand. Why would that irritate Sepp Blatter?

Michel: I cannot answer any additional questions from you.

Edvard: But surely that doesn’t apply after the game has completed.

Michel: I am sorry.

Edvard: All right. I will try another approach. Michel, if the reason that would irritate Sepp Blatter is related to cohosting, please sneeze twice.

Michel: Sneeze twice?

Edvard: Wait. Are you asking “sneeze twice”, or are you saying that because you can’t actually sneeze right now?

Michel: Why don’t I just answer your question.

Edvard: Yeah, why don’t you.

Michel: Well, Sepp Blatter is well known for believing that the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan was a failure, though the vast majority of those who attended had a wonderful time and believed that the experience was a great success. Mr Blatter has been against cohosting for the World Cup for that reason.

Edvard: Interesting. So the 2020 Men’s European Championship will be held in n different countries, where n could be as great as 13, just because it would irritate Sepp Blatter?

Michel: That is correct.

Edvard: Okay. Well, that’s fascinating. One more thing. Michel, would you support my bid for the FIFA presidency?

Michel: I am sorry, but I definitely cannot answer that question.

Edvard: Ah. Of course. Well, our patrollers have in fact guessed your Schmilblick, and that means that they have all won that fantastic trip to Men’s Euro 2020. Congratulations, everyone. Enjoy it with our compliments. So that’s all for this week. Please, come back and see us again next week for another thrilling battle of wits. I’m Edvard van de Kamp, wishing you good tidings and better Schmilblicks. Good night everyone!

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