Stuff I'm Just Not Writing About

Sometime today in a Seattle area courtroom America's Sweetheart Hope Solo will have the opportunity to "tell her side of the story" to the judge in her domestic violence case. 

You'll recall that USSF took a serious whacking from a large portion of the American sports media - everyone from respected soccer-loving female journalists like Christine Brennan to soccer-loathing professional scolds like Keith Olberman, (who not once but twice named USSF President Sunil Gulati "The Worst Person in the Sports World" for continuing to start Solo on the USWNT) - for, essentially, taking a "wait and see" stance in regard to the accusations.

Sunil Gulati

While Gulati's position is certainly arguable, even his - and her - staunchest supporters found naming her team captain in the middle of all the uproar to be more than a little tone deaf.

But that's not what it is I'm not writing about right now, particularly since sometime in the next few hours a judge may very well announce Our Miss Solo to be as innocent as a newborn babe, at which point the normally reticent Gulati will likely issue a media release reading, in it's entirety:

Neener, neener, neener.

Instead, the topic I'm not writing about is the somehow related- and utterly silly - stance of Major League Soccer regarding a recent visit by the police to the home of ex-Galaxy, ex-Chivas, ex-Fire and current Crew SC midfielder Daniel Paladini.

The Po-Po were there in response to a report of a "domestic dispute" at the home Paladini apparently shares with his fiance, one Sarah Alexander.

No one was arrested. No one was removed from the home. No charges have been filed. No one has seen a police report, the latter being because no one seems to know where, exactly, this incident even occurred, Columbus, Chicago or someplace else.

Normally of course you'd assume that Paladini was residing in CBus, but in his case, having broken his leg and undergone surgery back in September, he's not playing or participating in practices with a team for which he was not, shall we say, considered a key contributor in the first place.

Nevertheless, in the face of a complete paucity of facts, charges, witness statements or the slightest clue about what went on that night, Major League Soccer and the Crew have courageously announced that Paladini is suspended until further notice. With pay.

Don Garber (or possibly Todd Durbin) is obviously not of the Sunil Gulati "Let's Wait for Some Actaul Facts" school, and it would be a waste of time pointing out that, on the face of it at least, MLS is racing to the barricades over what may amount to nothing more than some angry shouting and a slammed door.

Because in the end I'd be forced to call it nothing but PC posturing and a gross overreaction and, well, I don't need the blow back.

But at least Don won't have Olberman writing about him either. Worth something I guess.

Also, despite expectations and several private pleas, I won't be writing - at least not now - about the revelation that comes to us via the New York Daily News claiming former CONCACAF General Secretary and FIFA Executive Committee member Chuck Blazer cooperated with the FBI in bugging private conversations with various soccer Poobahs.

The article itself contains so many errors of fact, errors of omission and preposterous conclusions that it reminds you of a sloppily overheated message board post. 

Having followed Blazer for years - I fondly recall the first time I wrote about him for BigSoccer when virtually no one had the faintest idea who he was; I ran a picture with a "Who Am I" multiple choice quiz where one of the choices was "Santa's Bad Seed Brother, Biker Claus" - I have no illusions about the guy.

Anything I wrote about the Daily News piece would inevitably be interpreted by some - particularly Mexico fans, who have hated him for years for a decision he made that they didn't much like - as claiming he's innocent of anything and everything and we've had that debate in this space 50 times at least.

So for example when I point out that Blazer's contract with CONCACAF was not for personal services but rather a specific agreement with his company, Sports Marketing, which is domiciled in the Caribbean and thus the fact that he didn't file US income tax returns on the payments which went to the company account in the Caribbean is not, as the Daily News writer breathlessly implies, evidence of criminality, it's not taking his side.

It's just stating the facts.

(One example of the sloppiness of the article is his clip-and-paste graphic of a part of the CONCACAF committee report which spells out the years in which Blazer didn't file US taxes for the Confederation -on the grounds that it was a Trinidadian Company -  and using it as evidence that Blazer didn't file a personal return, something which we have no evidence of one way or the other)

Whether or not this particular arrangement - which is certainly a tax dodge -passes the smell test with the IRS is not within my expertise.

The only question that I think we can fairly judge is whether Blazer took gross advantage of his contract situation - in the absence of a new contract, the old one is legally in force - to pay himself (or, as noted, his company) absurdly large commissions.

It's rather clear that he did.

If this violated the law somehow, one would expect that he'd be charged with a crime. So far as we know, he has not been.

The article contends that Blazer was induced to bug his dinner conversations by the FBI in order to avoid prosecution, which may or may not be true but which for purposes of the article is pure supposition. 

But aside from all the rehashed, warmed-over, grossly exaggerated and clownishly misunderstood crapola the writer tosses at the wall in hopes that it all amounts to something, the biggest reason why I won't be writing in detail about the piece is the proud revelation that the writer tried to force his way in to the hospital room where Blazer is currently being treated for reportedly terminal colon cancer and using his refusal to talk to him as a kind of mobster-pulling-his-hat-over-his-face "no comment" "gotcha" moment instead of what it really is:

A grotesque intrusion of the sort which gives modern "journalism" a bad name.

In the department of "credit where it's due", however, I will be writing about the aforementioned Sunil Gulati's standup at the World Cup.

When FIFA Executive Committee members arrived in Rio for the World Cup, they were met at the airport with a private limo and whisked to suites at the lavish Grand Hyatt where they each found a special Goody Bag waiting for them.

Included in the bag was a pair of specially made $25,000 Parmigiani watches.

A month or so later, a British newspaper got wind of the gifts. Sepp Blatter responded by issuing a decree banning any ExCo member from discussing the incident.

Then FIFA dithered and dathered and held meetings and finally, grudgingly, announced that the watches violated FIFA rules against expensive gifts and should be returned. This was decided in September, four months after the fact. Some member have sent them back, some are refusing to comply.

Falling into neither category are three ExCo members. The reason is that all three not only  refused to accept the things in the first place but immediately reported the illegal presents to the FIFA Ethics Committee:

Prince Ali Bin Hassan of Jordan, co-opted Australian Moya Dodd and:

USSF President Sunil Gulati.

Well done sir. Well done.