The only thing worse than missing a chance to play in the World Cup must be missing a chance to play in the World Cup on home soil.
So spare a thought for Benni McCarthy, by all accounts a nice bloke with a penchant for the occasional pie, who has been dropped from South Africa's squad for the World Cup after spending the past month being told he was too fat by everyone from his fitness coach to flabby porn merchant David Sullivan.
McCarthy had been on a Rocky Balboa-esque training regime (as we bet he went out of his way to get a photographer to document, above) in the lead-up to the World Cup, after SA trainer Francisco Gonzalez ran to the papers complaining about the striker's pudgy frame:
McCarthy's percentage body fat is high. And his physical state is inferior to the rest of his team. What's the point of having a player who isn't in a good physical condition and therefore useless to the coach?
However, a spanner was thrown in the works when West Ham chairman and professional embarrassment David Sullivan, a man not exactly known for his dietary expertise, decided to have a pop at poor Benni in a toe-curling interview with the Daily Mail over the Bank Holiday:
Benni McCarthy's body-fat measurement is 24.2 per cent. Mine is 25.4 per cent. [you sure about that, David?] Benni McCarthy is nearly as fat as me. I try to do aerobics in the morning but I'm 61 years old.
He's the one West Ham player I want to go to the World Cup because he might come back fitter.
Oops. And it gets worse:
I don't know at what point this becomes a breach of contract. It probably doesn't… It is not unreasonable to keep to a diet when you're a professional sportsman. It ought to be a breach of contract.
The Spoiler is guessing he's already wrist-deep in a pint of Haagen-Dasz Chocolate Midnight Cookie ice-cream, but Benni — comfort eating probably isn't the best idea right now.
This post, written by Josh Burt, is republished with permission from The Spoiler. Go there often if you like soccer stuff.