In my role as a blogger on a soccer website, I have striven to keep the great moral and social issues of our times strictly separate from the day-to-day diversion offered by sport.
But sometimes, it is impossible for people of good conscience to turn away from the crises and conflicts of the day.
So in that spirit, I'm going to diverge from my usual chattering about soccer and instead devote this column to an examination of a subject that most of us thought was part of history:
Slavery in the modern world.
To illustrate this human tragedy, I've selected a random victim; let's call him Cristiano:
As you can see, Cristiano is very sad. Unlike you and I, for whom - as the great philosopher Phil Collins once wrote - this is just "another day in Paradise", Cristiano is a slave.
Less than a year ago, he was tricked by a huge, bloodsucking international cabal (led, shockingly, by an American "businessman") into signing what is laughingly referred to as a "contract" for his labor.
This "contract" which appallingly "pays" Cristiano a token £44 million over the next four years, has cruelly bound him against his will to a life of misery and squalor that you and I can barely imagine.
For example, instead of the plush, comfortable suburban palaces that you and I inhabit, Cristiano is forced to sleep every night in this five-story tin shack:
Fortunately, he was able to scrape up the £4 million it took to be allowed to stay there, where the hygiene levels are shockingly primitive:
In return, Cristiano is forced to work in the fields under the hot sun and is transported back and forth from his pitiful shanty in this broken down $1.5 million open truck:
The only bright spot in Christiano's sad life is a new female freind whose picture I would share with you but, shamefully, her poverty is so extreme that most of the pictures one finds of her prove that she herself cannot even afford clothing.
Fortunately, Christiano is no longer alone.
International Social Activist Sepp Blatter of Switzerland is PUBLICLY SPEAKING OUT AGAINST CRISTIANO'S SLAVERY and Cristiano himself HAS BECOME A SYMBOL OF THIS BATTLE AGAINST OPRESSION, fighting against the injustice of his bondage.
Won't you join me in standing up to this outrage and put a stop, once and for all, to the despicable practice of asking soccer players to sign contracts that pay them vast sums of money and then cruelly demand that they live up to the arrangement?
Send what you can afford, so that one day Cristiano can walk in the sun.