x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

A demanding bunch of kids

Tiger's texting troubles, Poulter's breakfast bothers and the Formula One guys' needs are a priority for Santa Claus.

Tiger Woods has lost his position as the world's No 1 golfer and is one of many sports stars in need of some festive cheer.
Tiger Woods has lost his position as the world's No 1 golfer and is one of many sports stars in need of some festive cheer.

Is nothing sacred? After a tumultuous year of publishing top-secret documents, you might think that WikiLeaks would enjoy a short rest over the festive period. But no. The whistle-blowing website has taken the controversial decision to expose secret communiques sent by the world's greatest philanthropist: Santa Claus.

Not only do the sensational documents reveal highly sensitive information, including a full list of who has been "good" or "bad" this year, they also contain details of gift requests sent by all the world's girls and boys. And where do you find the biggest and most demanding children? Take a wild guess …



To: Elves' Workshop, North Pole

From: Santa Claus

Dear Elfin colleagues,

I have just finished processing the letters sent to me by the boys and girls who work in professional sport. Well, I say "letters", but it is mainly text messages these days. They all have me on speed dial, you see, which is a mixed blessing. In young Tiger's case, I surmise that my name is listed between a Sandra and a Sapphire on his phone, as he occasionally sends their messages to me by mistake.

As well as text messages, an increasing number of athletes are contacting me via Twitter, which I am doing my best to understand. Ian Poulter, for example, the golfer who really should ask me for some new trousers, uses it a lot. From what I can work out, this year he would like some cereal bowls, as he currently has to eat his Cheerios from the Ryder Cup. We'd better throw in a jacket and a jug, too, just in case he has a very successful 2011.

Still, at least those boys have the decency to contact me in person. Other sporting boys and girls have their agents write letters for them. I have to say, these often contain the most outrageous demands, and the agent will usually request an extra toy for himself. I find this confusing, but apparently it is the modern way.

Despite these small hitches, I have managed to compile a list. As usual, it is a big one, but you must make it your top priority as these people are considered to be the most important. So, please start work on the following items.

For Michael Schumacher, a pipe and slippers. (He threw his old set away this year, which now looks like a mistake. To save work, you can give him that set we have had waiting for Sir Alex Ferguson for the last 10 years. He isn't done yet.) For Lewis Hamilton, a chemistry set. He loves to burn rubber, but would prefer to do so in the future without the attentions of the Melbourne Police.

Fernando Alonso says he does not want presents this year. His bosses at Ferrari have told him to simply take whatever he wants from Felipe Massa's stocking. His bosses also say they do not want presents, but would I mind displaying their special bar code on my sleigh this year? I said I didn't see why not. What harm can a meaningless bar code do?

Sorry, just had a craving for a Marlboro cigarette. Now where was I? Oh yes, football.

By a strange coincidence, Peter Crouch, Wayne Rooney and John Terry have all asked for the same thing this year: an extra comfortable sofa-bed for their spare rooms. And thinking of John Terry reminds me what Wayne Bridge, his former friend and Chelsea team-mate asked for: "Anything, as long as I can keep it to myself." He does not like sharing these days, for some reason.

Inter Milan manager Rafael Benitez had asked for a Teach-Yourself-Italian book but he has texted me this week to say he no longer needs it. He has asked for the money instead.

Another football manager who did not appear to be feeling too festive in his correspondence was Sam Allardyce. His only request was dietary. Namely, he did not want any turkey for Christmas dinner. Nor did he want chicken, or even duck. He seemed quite down on all poultry, and his language about certain poultry farmers nearly landed him on the Naughty Boys list. He said they "all needed stuffing", and he did not mean the sage and onion variety.

After so many big demands and stressful negotiations, it was rather lovely to receive a simple request from Sepp Blater, the Fifa president. All he wanted, he said, was a train set. Ah, bless his soul, that is a nice easy one to get you started.

So, time to get to work elves! The boys and girls of the sporting world are depending on you!




STOP PRESS: Further clarification from young Sepp regarding his request. By "train set" he meant a working rail network for Russia, built by 2018. Looks like you might need to put in some overtime.