Poor, Poor, Pitiful Poland

It seems like Benevolent Soccer Patriarch Sepp Blatter can't go a month without having to bring the hammer down on one government or another as proof that he really won't tolerate the slightest interference, from anyone, ever.

Big countries, tiny countries, countries with long and glorious soccer traditions, countries with not much more than a couple amateur leagues, one by one they line up, convinced that the fact they have something called a "Sports Minister" means they have political control over sport in their country.

The most notable recent case was of course Spain, whose government felt they could dictate the timing of Spanish Federation elections. Elections which everyone knew would re-elect Sepp's candidate, by the way, so it wasn't exactly a radical reform movement to switch the foregone-conclusion election from November to July.

Except to Sepp Blatter.

To him, any interference by any government anywhere with his God-given right to run FIFA exactly how he pleases is a matter of the gravest importance.

So he told Spain if they tried to move the election, he'd disqualify them from EURO 2008.

Spain said that was "impossible" and that they'd do as they pleased.

Sepp told Northern Ireland to get ready to replace Spain.

Spain huffed and puffed about how their team had qualified and they would go to EURO 2008 regardless of what that Swiss freak said.

The Swiss freak reminded them that the guys with the whistles work for him.

Spain decided that maybe moving the election wasn't that important after all.

Since then there's been the stray Chad or Botswana or whomever whose government got a little big for their britches, but the old "You're disqualified from International competition" ploy works really well right around now.

Which brings us, astonishingly, to Poland.

You may recall that early last year, in the midst of mass arrests of Polish players, coaches, managers, referees and officials on corruption charges, Poland decided - not unreasonably - that the existing board of the Polish Federation was doing a crummy job policing the sport and needed to be replaced.

Sepp Blatter reacted like a scalded cat; he announced that FIFA considered the old board to be the only legitimate Polish soccer authority, they would refuse to deal with anyone else and that if Poland wanted to have EURO 2012 taken away from them this was a damn fine way to go about it.

So Poland relented and reinstated the PZPN board so they could go back to not doing anything at all about the corruption which was destroying Polish soccer.

Fast forward to earlier this week, when the new Polish Sports Minister, one Miroslaw Drzewiecki, announced that he was firing the President of the PZPN, one Michal Listkiewicz, a longtime friend and ally of Blatters, and called for new elections later this month.

And once again, in a replay of the previous drama, both FIFA and UEFA have announced that they refuse to recognize anyone but Listkiewicz as head of the PZPN and told them that if they don't reinstate the old administration by noon on Monday, FIFA will cancel Poland's two upcoming Qualifiers, against the Czechs on October 11 and Slovakia on October 15, and award default wins to their opponents thus effectively ending Poland's World Cup bid.

And, oh yes, they can kiss EURO 2012 goodbye.

But here's the best part:

New Sports Minister Drzewiecki said in an interview that “The two associations (FIFA and UEFA ) don’t know what is happening in PZPN . “I am sure that when they look into the materials on the basis of which the management board was suspended, they will accept this decision.”

What a wonderful man he must be, to be able to maintain this almost childlike belief in the basic goodness and decency of Sepp Blatter and Michael Platini.

Unfortunately, he's badly misinformed.

There is nothing - and I mean absolutely nothing - that they could possibly show Sepp Blatter to make him relent and let a government replace a Federation President.

Not film of him robbing a bank, not a video of him in an SS uniform beating a hooker, not photos of him having carnal relations with farm animals, and certainly not some old dusty account books that prove he's been skimming off the top.

In fact, if it's the latter, Sepp will likely grade it and hand it back to Listkievicz with notes in the margins, like "He would have paid a lot more than this" and "why didn't you also demand an airplane?" and "very nice work - now where's my cut?"

Instead, the Sports Minister, who has apparently been hiding under a rock the last few years, is about to get a lesson in how it's a bad mistake to call the bluff of a man who's holding not just the best cards but ALL the cards.