I have this strong image of Sepp Blatter and Neymar Jr. riding the same paddy wagon on the way to the hoosegow.
I know, I know, innocent until proven, etc. But I cannot control my imagination.
Blatter is being investigated for chicanery within FIFA.
Neymar Jr. is being investigated -- not for diving, but for tax evasion involving his family business.
I picture them in the same van, riding up the river.
(Not sure what river. The Amazon? The Limmat? Never mind, it's an analogy.)
Neymar is antsy, as a first-time offender.
Blatter is stolid, having feared this moment, in his dark 3 AM moments, for many years.
It's like the scene in the classic movie, "The Unforgiven," where the kid is blubbering to Clint that he's never killed anybody before. (Blatter is no Clint, but let it pass.)
"Geez, Mr. Blatter, I never thought it would come to this. I figured, I get away with stuff on the pitch, my family can file what we want on tax forms."
Blatter is silent.
"Plus, Mr. Blatter, we all saw how you guys did it. Millions of dollars to Havelange and his son-in-law. Jack Warner making poor old Nelson Mandela fly all the way to Trinidad to beg for the World Cup. And maybe millions of dollars to Warner for his votes. The FIFA way."
Blatter turns his back, facing the van wall, but Neymar continues.
"Fat Chuckie Blazer in the Trump Tower, two apartments! And you, with the yellow Fair Play banners at every match, getting on TV. You were the role model."
Blatter turns to Neymar and bares his teeth, like Edward G.Robinson or Jimmy Cagney in the last reel.
"Shut up, kid," Blatter growls.
The ride continues up river, silently.
* * *
For the details, please see links from the NY Times:
Juliet Macur's terrific column in the Sunday Times:
The Reuters story on Neymar's tax troubles:
Sam Borden's story on the investigation of Blatter:
Borden's story on another slippery guy, Michel Platini, who double-crossed the U.S. for the 2022 bid:
And for background on FIFA frolics, you might consider my book, "Eight World Cups: My Journey Through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer," now out in paperback, with an added chapter on 2014. The dark side would be Blatter and his chums.
Had a wonderful time on the #NYTReadalong Sunday with Sree Sreenivasan and Neil Parekh, talking about the Super Bowl and the great paper where I used to work. Here’s the link to my fun time. Thanks to all the nice people who sent messages while I was babbling. The Readalong is Sunday, 8:30-10:15 AM Eastern, and the link is available after that:
has filed an interview with, of all people, me.
It's on his blog. (Just past photo of rat!) My thanks for his interest. GV
David Vecsey's sweet tale of distant love before the Web, now NYT Podcast, narrated by Griffin Dunne. Please see: