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Seems like Sepp Blatter is willing to tolerate more than zero

A letter to Sepp Blatter, recently reelected president of FIFA:

Dear Sepp,

Congratulations on your recent reelection to whatever it was. Four terms, huh? Boy, you’ve come a long way since you were pushing wristwatches for a living.

Just thought I’d drop you a line or two and say how much better things are now that your “zero tolerance” policy is in place.

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Oh sure, there are still the occasional bad apples that bob to the surface. I saw the other day, for instance, where some Norwegian newspaper claimed that your buddies Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil had met with Europe’s most notorious black-market ticket scalper not long before last year’s World Cup in South Africa.

So what? Maybe they just crossed paths looking for tickets to the Shakira concert. Only those with an ax to grind would think it had to do with anything underhanded. There had to be an innocent explanation.

I couldn’t also fail to notice, however, that there was a bit of a flap in South Korea this past week. Something about league games being fixed and players betting on matches they knew were rigged.

And in Italy the week before, a whole bunch of people, including players, were arrested for match fixing. Seems like some players even had their drinks spiked before games to harm their performance. Seems like hundreds of thousands of dollars were being bet.

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Again, these things happen.

I know you’ve been taking a fair bit of flak lately, but I can’t say I agree with Diego Maradona when he says your election means nothing. You probably saw the comments he made about you and your executive committee. If not, here they are:

“Everything will be the same. … FIFA is a big museum and they are dinosaurs who do not want to give up power.”

Well, who does? Diego certainly didn’t when he was tossed out on his ear as Argentina’s coach last year, so who is he to point fingers, right?

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In any case, I think he went a bit far when he said: “Every day there is corruption, match-fixing scandals. This is not football. We are not talking football here. This is not something that people who watch football deserve.”

Speaking of Argentina, you were probably busy a couple of Saturdays ago celebrating your reelection, so you might not have seen where Nigeria thrashed Argentina, 4-1, in some place called Abuja? What a game, huh? Five goals. Who would have thought it?

There was some talk about the outcome being fixed, rumors that a ton of money had been bet when Nigeria was leading, 4-0. And that as much as $1 million had been wagered at huge odds on a fifth goal being scored or not being scored. Something like that.

Sure enough, five minutes of injury time were announced and then eight minutes of injury time were played. It ended only after Argentina was given a penalty kick on a hand ball that some claimed was nonexistent. So it ended 4-1 and some people made out like bandits.

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Or maybe I should say “pirates,” which, you might recall, is what your Argentine pal Julio Grondona called the English on the eve of your reelection. He was probably still sour about that Falkland Islands business, I guess. At least that’s what he said when he explained why he had voted for Russia over England for the 2018 World Cup.

Remember? It was a great quote.

“If you give back the Falkland Islands, which belong to us, you will get my vote.”

I know you won’t think this is funny, Sepp, but does Julio offering his vote for a South Atlantic island chain mean Grondona can be bought? Just kidding.

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Meanwhile, you sure surprised everyone when you named your expert advisors to solve all this nonsense about bribery and corruption. Most folks thought you’d be going with, you know, guys with unquestioned integrity and unparalleled knowledge of the game. People such as, say, Sir Bobby Charlton.

But you threw them a curveball, didn’t you? Henry Kissinger and Placido Domingo! Sheer genius! Of course, they’ll have to listen to Johan Cruyff drone on and on and on, but Kissinger will probably be asleep — did you know he was 88? — and Domingo is just there for the entertainment anyway, right?

Anyway, Sepp, congratulations once again. I’m sure the next four years will be as transparent as the last 12 and just as enriching to all concerned.

You’re going to miss it when you hang it up. But who knows, come 2015 you might decide that, as you say, your mission has yet to be accomplished and you’ll run again.

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Hope so. Things wouldn’t be the same without you.

Best regards,

Grahame

P.S.: Jack Warner wants to know when he can come out of the dog house.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com


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