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WEEKLY WHINE

Schmilblick Patrol: Sandra Fruean

Edvard: Hello! Good evening! Welcome everyone! Thank you! Thank you so much! Welcome everyone to GoobNet’s Adventures of the Schmilblick Patrol, the game that gives you the opportunity to enter the heads of the world’s most influential and consequential people. We do not, of course, tell you how to exit their minds when you are done. Well, let us meet our participant for this week. She is a former footballer who wore the captain’s armband for the American Samoa women’s side. She has since gone on to several leadership positions, including vice president of the Football Federation of American Samoa and a match commissioner at the Women’s World Cup. She currently sits on the FIFA council, where she helps shape the future growth of football. So let’s bring her out right now. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the vice president of the Football Federation of American Samoa, Sandra Fruean!

Sandra: Good evening, Edvard.

Edvard: Welcome, Sandra. Thank you for joining us here tonight.

Sandra: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Edvard: Shall we get right into it and meet the patrollers?

Sandra: Certainly.

Edvard: Great. We have Leticia from Perth, WA, Australia.

Leticia: Hello.

Edvard: Laura from Auckland, New Zealand.

Laura: Good evening, Edvard.

Edvard: And Vero from Wollongong, NSW, Australia.

Vero: Hello, Edvard.

Edvard: Welcome to all of you. Well, Sandra, these are our patrollers for the week. Please give them a description of your Schmilblick.

Sandra: Of course. My Schmilblick is: Why I voted in favour of the proposal to expand the FIFA World Cup to 48 teams in sixteen groups of three.

Edvard: Why you voted for the proposal to expand the Men’s World Cup to 48 teams in sixteen groups of three, starting with the 2026 tournament. So why you specifically voted that way, rather than the council as a whole.

Sandra: Yes.

Edvard: The vote was held at this week’s meeting of the FIFA council. And in fact, that proposal passed unanimously, didn’t it?

Sandra: That’s right.

Edvard: Very good. I think this could be a challenge for our patrollers. But if they can meet this challenge and identify your Schmilblick, Sandra, they will win a fabulous trip to the OFC Under 20 Women’s Championship to be held later this year. We will fly all three of you round trip to the tournament venue, where you’ll spend twelve nights in a delightful hotel. And we will supply each of you with tickets to all matches played whilst you are there. But Sandra, if they cannot determine your Schmilblick in eighteen queries, you will win a fabulous trip to the Australian Ging Championship to be held later this year. We will fly you round trip to the tournament venue, where you’ll spend five nights in a hotel that we can get you. And we will supply you with tickets to all rounds played whilst you are there. So those are the stakes. Patrollers, are you ready?

Leticia: Yes!

Vero: Ready!

Laura: Ready!

Edvard: Sandra, are you ready?

Sandra: Yes, I am.

Edvard: Great. Let’s go on patrol! Leticia, you may ask the first question.

Leticia: Thank you, Edvard. Sandra, hi.

Sandra: Good evening, Leticia.

Leticia: Sandra, you represent the Oceania Football Confederation on the FIFA council. Did you vote for the 48 team format in order to obtain more places for the OFC at the World Cup?

Sandra: That was one reason, yes.

Edvard: But that is not your Schmilblick?

Sandra: No.

Edvard: I see. So you have identified a reason, but not the one that is Sandra’s Schmilblick. That is one down and seventeen to go. Laura, you may now ask your first question.

Laura: Hello, Sandra.

Sandra: Good evening, Laura.

Laura: Did you vote for this format for the money?

Sandra: No, I did not.

Edvard: Really?

Sandra: Yes.

Edvard: You’re sure?

Sandra: Yes.

Edvard: This really is a new FIFA. And it is also two down and sixteen to go. And before we have the next question, let us take a moment to meet our patrollers. Vero, hi.

Vero: Hi, Edvard.

Edvard: You are an actuarial assistant in Wollongong.

Vero: Yes.

Edvard: And I understand you are originally from France.

Vero: Yes. My family moved to Australia when I was at the age of four.

Edvard: And how do you like Australia?

Vero: I love it. It is my home.

Edvard: Great. Tell me about this tournament.

Vero: I compete in slingshot tournaments right around Australia. It is great fun.

Edvard: The Australian “Ging” Championship?

Vero: Yes, ging. That is what we call slingshots down under.

Edvard: Fascinating. I have not heard that term. Well, good luck in your tournaments.

Vero: Thank you.

Edvard: Let us have your first question for Sandra.

Vero: Good evening, Sandra.

Sandra: Good evening, Vero.

Vero: Sandra, does your reason for voting for the 48 team format relate to the number of matches that will be played?

Sandra: No.

Edvard: Not related at all to the number of matches?

Sandra: No.

Edvard: All right. Well, that takes us to three down and fifteen to go. Leticia, hi.

Leticia: Hello, Edvard.

Edvard: From Perth.

Leticia: Yes.

Edvard: Where you work in advertising.

Leticia: Yes. I edit television spots.

Edvard: Is that difficult? Is editing adverts different than, say, editing a television programme or a film?

Leticia: Yes, absolutely. In an advert, we have a half minute, perhaps a full minute, to get the message across. So generally we keep things simple: not many different scenes, perhaps just a few images of the interior of the business or of its products, and usually voiceover narration.

Edvard: And is that a French accent I detect?

Leticia: Yes, I too have moved from France. I first trained for video editing in France, and I have now been doing this in Australia for sixteen years.

Edvard: So did you know Vero before today?

Leticia: No, we met for the first time backstage. In fact, we discovered that we are all three from France.

Edvard: Really? Well, we’ll speak with you in a moment, Laura, but first, Leticia, let us move on to your next question for Sandra.

Leticia: Of course. Sandra, is your reason for voting this way related to the timing of the tournament?

Sandra: Yes, it is.

Edvard: It is?

Sandra: Yes.

Edvard: Well, I would like to find out how, but it is not my job to ask that. Laura, it is your job to ask. It is four down and fourteen to go. Laura, hi.

Laura: Hello, Edvard.

Edvard: Or should I say, bon soir.

Laura: Bon soir, Edvard. Comment-allez vous?

Edvard: Bien. And that does it for our new programme, Edvard Expends All of the Conversational French He Knows. Thank you everyone. Thank you.

Laura: Trés bien, Edvard.

Edvard: Laura, you are a visiting professor of literature at Massey University. Teaching French literature?

Laura: No, New Zealand literature.

Edvard: Really?

Laura: Yes. While studying literature in France, I came across some works of Kiwi authors and was fascinated immediately.

Edvard: So who are some Kiwi authors we should be aware of?

Laura: I enjoy the works of Witi Ihimaera. He writes about present day Māori culture. Keri Hulme is very good, as are Robin Hyde and Maurice Gee.

Edvard: Great. Well, we will look for their works. In the meantime, you must ask a question of Sandra.

Laura: Sandra, did you vote for the proposal that expands the World Cup the most while also minimising the number of matches to be played?

Sandra: No. Well, the proposal that I voted for does meet that description, but that is not why I voted for it.

Edvard: Very well. That is five down and thirteen to go. Vero, back to you.

Vero: Sandra, did you want a proposal that does not increase the total length of the World Cup?

Sandra: Yes, I did.

Edvard: But that’s not your Schmilblick either.

Sandra: No.

Edvard: Okay. Well, that is six down and twelve to go. Leticia, let us have your third question.

Leticia: Sandra, are you concerned with the number of matches per day that are currently played at the World Cup?

Sandra: No, I am not.

Edvard: Not concerned with the number of matches per day.

Sandra: No.

Edvard: Right. Well, that is seven down and eleven to go. Laura, we return to you.

Laura: Sandra, you say that your vote was related to the timing of the tournament. Is it related specifically to the timing of the matches?

Sandra: Yes, it is.

Edvard: It is. Well, that could well turn out to be a big clue for our patrollers. It is now eight down and ten to go. Our patrollers look to be narrowing it down, and they still have ten more questions yet. Vero, we go back to you. What will you ask?

Vero: Did you vote for this proposal because there will be more matches per day?

Sandra: No, I did not.

Edvard: Okay, so that is nine down and nine to go. We are midway through the questioning, and our patrollers now seem to be quite close to identifying Sandra’s Schmilblick, which today is why she voted to expand the Men’s World Cup to 48 teams in sixteen groups of three. Leticia, we return to you now.

Leticia: Sandra, when there are groups of three teams, there can be only one match per group per matchday. Therefore, there cannot be two matches in the same group kicking off at the same time, as there is today. Is that why you voted for this proposal?

Sandra: Yes, it is.

Edvard: But that’s still not your Schmilblick.

Sandra: No, it’s not.

Edvard: But still important information for our patrollers. Well, that is ten down and eight to go. Laura, back to you. Let us have your fourth question.

Laura: So you do not want matches being played at the same time. Is this because it divides the television audience?

Sandra: No, it is not.

Edvard: So not concerned about the television viewers. Eleven down and seven to go, then. Vero?

Vero: Sandra, did you vote for this proposal because you do not like watching two matches at the same time?

Sandra: Yes, I did. And that’s my Schmilblick.

Edvard: It is?

Sandra: Yes.

Edvard: You don’t like to watch two matches at the same time?

Sandra: No, I don’t.

Edvard: But surely you admit that it’s necessary from a competitive standpoint.

Sandra: Yes, in a group of four teams. That’s why I voted for this proposal.

Edvard: But in a group of three teams, the teams that play the last game are at an advantage.

Sandra: But you don’t need to have simultaneous kickoffs.

Edvard: No, you can’t have simultaneous kickoffs. In a three team group, you are, by necessity, putting one team at a disadvantage.

Sandra: We felt that was a small price to pay for the tradeoff of a more inclusive FIFA World Cup.

Edvard: You’re underestimating the price you have paid. By making this decision, FIFA have finally admitted that putting on a fair competition is not their primary objective.

Laura: Edvard, one moment?

Edvard: Yes, Laura?

Laura: Sandra, you said that you do not like to watch two matches at the same time. Why is that? Do you not have picture in picture?

Sandra: No, I don’t.

Edvard: Wait, hold on. You made a decision about the 2026 Men’s World Cup based upon a capability that the television that you have today doesn’t have?

Sandra: Yes.

Edvard: Why not just get a new television?

Sandra: I did not make this decision for myself. I made this decision for everyone around the world who does not have picture in picture.

Edvard: Ah. Of course. Future generations of football viewers will thank you.

Sandra: I hope so.

Edvard: Right. Well, our patrollers have identified your Schmilblick in twelve queries. Congratulations to all of you. You’ve won the trip to the OFC Under 20 Women’s Championship, so enjoy that trip. Have a great time in whichever country will be hosting that tournament. And we’ll see all of you next week right here on GoobNet’s Adventures of the Schmilblick Patrol. I’m Edvard van de Kamp, wishing you good tidings and better Schmilblicks. Good night, everyone!

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