Exclusive: Score! Henry Kissinger's Soccer Passion Tackled Cold War Warriors

A subtle observation can sometimes have a major impact.

The news that newly-reelected FIFA president Sepp Blatter has asked former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, along with Dutch soccer icon Johann Cruyff and opera legend Placido Domingo, to join a 'council of wisdom' to clean up the corruption infecting the sport's ruling body may have come as a surprise even to the keenest fans.

What pray does Kissinger, a legendary shuttle diplomat routinely associated with the late President Nixon, reconciliation with China and the Vietnam war, know about soccer?

Well, more than you might think - as my friend, TV and radio host Pat O'Brien revealed.

He remembered sitting with the venerable American diplomat and other notables in a VIP box at the 1994 World Cup final between Brazil and Italy at Pasadena's historic Rose Bowl arena. As an opening gambit Pat asked Kissinger, who was a fan of the New York Cosmos during the 1970s, to give him some pointers on what to watch for in the game.

As he explained the niceties of the offside rule, Kissinger told him of the day he entered the Oval Office clutching a sheaf of aerial photos of Cuba taken by spy planes.

'We have a problem, Mr President,' he told Nixon. Then he laid out the black and white pictures which showed a series of oblong and diamond shapes marked out on playing fields situated in army barracks.

Nixon was bemused. 'What's the problem?', he asked.

Kissinger, who has followed soccer for most of his life, then explained.

'Mr President, you see the diamond shapes - well they are baseball pitches. The oblongs - they are soccer fields.'

Nixon still didn't get it. 'What are you talking about?' he asked, now becoming rather irritated.

Kissinger then delivered his magisterial verdict. 'Mr President, the Cubans play baseball but the Russians - they play soccer. The Russian military are back in Cuba.'

Pat never did hear what happened next. At that moment Kissinger stood up and his trousers fell down to his ankles, revealing a pair of white nobly knees and long underpants.

'It was just the funniest thing,'recalled Pat. 'He treated the incident like it happened every day.' As for the game, Brazil ran out 3-2 victors of Italy.

Kissinger though who is now 88, may find it more difficult to pin down the slippery Swiss Blatter than finding the Russians in the Cuban jungle.

Share this story About the author

As one of the world’s best-known biographers and a leading authority on modern celebrity, Morton has been called "the king of celebrity biographers." He became an overnight sensation with the publication of his groundbreaking 1992 biography revealing the secret world of the late Diana, Princess…

View Profile
Visit Website

More from Andrew

Connect With TMR

Recent Writers

View all writers »

October 2016
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31