bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: FIFA comes apart at the seams

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Last Wednesday, the corrupt house of cards known as FIFA came tumbling down. FIFA, or Fédération Internationale de Football Association, is the governing body of international soccer, which includes the enormous event called the World Cup. Every four years, this tournament is held somewhere in the world, and the teams that have made it through the myriad qualifying rounds compete for the championship in a city that has been selected to host. Now I am not a big soccer fan, and don’t follow the sport anywhere nearly as closely as many people out there, but even I had often heard rumors of corruption and bribery involving the FIFA officials. Last week, fourteen people were indicted as part of an investigation into mass wrongdoing within the organization.

The charges against those arrested included things such as money laundering, bribery, and fraud. The FBI was behind this particular investigation, although it appears that Switzerland has been running its own inquiry as well. Those arrested included people very high up in the organization, including FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb. The FBI claims that wrongdoing occurred in many different areas, including the awarding to South Africa of the 2010 World Cup. The Swiss investigation is digging into how Russia got the 2018 event and Qatar got 2022. Again, none of this can be a surprise to anyone, as these choices were extremely controversial when they were made, and many believed things were not on the up-and-up.

The most amazing thing about the whole event was that FIFA president Sapp Blatter (and what a name THAT is) was not only not charged, but he was then re-elected to his post on Friday in the midst of all this stuff. It’s not as if Blatter had no connection to any of the arrested people, of course. On the contrary, he has had involvement with many of them. There is zero chance that his hands are clean in this mess. His response to the situation when asked contained nothing but arrogance and blather, and he delivered a bizarre victory speech after the election.

Early this week, the FBI announced that the investigation was now focused on Blatter and his wrongdoing. Finally, the man announced he would step aside as president. However, he is remaining in his position until an election is held to find his replacement, and the date of that as not been announced. He should be removed immediately, and I am sure there is someone who can fill the spot temporarily until a new president is chosen. I hope that the arrests and all the publicity will lead to a new beginning for FIFA that does not include all of the garbage that has dominated it for decades. I can’t say I am overly optimistic about that happening, though.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Brain aneurysms claimed the lives of two young ball players this past week. Zacharie Schaubhut, a teenager from Iowa, collapsed after being hit by a ball while pitching on Sunday. Initial reports were that he had been hit in the head, but that was later disputed. The medical report listed an aneurysm as the cause of death. This happened a day after Dana Housley, a softball player from California, collapsed late in a game on Saturday. She died on Wednesday.

3) Prince Shembo, a linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons, was arrested on Friday for killing his girlfriend’s dog by kicking it multiple times. The Falcons released him later that day.

4) Steve Weatherford, punter for the New York Giants, totaled his rental car on the New Jersey Turnpike at 3:30 AM on Monday. He was unhurt. Normally this sort of story is accompanied with some kind of arrest (usually DUI), but this one was apparently caused by weather and not drinking.

Good sports:

1) I have a new hero. A woman named Harriette Thompson finished the San Diego Marathon on Sunday. Why is this exciting? Thompson is 92 years old. This was her 16th marathon. Amazing.

2) Shortstop Freddie Galvis is having a pretty good season replacing Jimmy Rollins in the Philadelphia Phillies lineup. None of what came before it measures up to this play he made on Saturday against the Colorado Rockies, though. Check it out.

3) Most baseball people will tell you that the toughest position on the field, physically, is catcher. That’s what makes this feat even cooler. Martin Maldonado caught all 17 innings of his team’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. As if that weren’t enough, he hit a walkoff homerun off of Vidal Nuno to win the game in the bottom of the 17th.

Bad sports, good sports appears each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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