The Cosmos Connection.

Some people might say that the big game down in Havana today between the Cuban national team ("Los Presos Políticos") and the New York NeoCosmos is nothing but a cheap publicity stunt, an exhibition between a team desperate for some sort of relevance and one desperate for some sort of money.

For their part, the Cosmos of course trotted out Pele who somehow, impossibly, managed to keep his streak of saying incredibly stupid, badly-timed stuff alive when, before he had even left Havana Airport, told reporters that he stood foursquare behind Sepp Blatter's recent reelection:

“I was in favor. It was necessary because it is better to have people with experience. He’s a man who has been there for 25 years, you have to respect him, it was an election.”

Yes. Yes it was.

(Fortunately, the Cosmos media people shoved him into awaiting car before anyone was able to ask him about the recent conviction of his 44 year old son Edinho, a second division coach who was just found guilty in a money laundering case that involved a drug gang and has been sentenced to 33 years in prison.)

Still, it's great to see the progress the Cosmos are making: in 2010 they had to drag out Pele to get some attention, but now they....oh to hell with it.

And fortunately for everyone, today's match is being held in Havana instead of the palatial stadium in Elmont New York which - what? well egg on my face - instead of at Hofstra or someplace so there won't be all those embarrassing empty seats on the flight home.

Sadly, what might have been a banner day for the NASL, with one of their teams taking center stage in a farcical event- the Cosmos having the opportunity to prove how far they've come since the farcical Paul Scholes retirement match - is instead taking place with a growing cloud hanging over the league.

Within just the last week, the guiding lights, founding fathers and financial principals behind NASL v2.5, Traffic Sports, have been exposed as nothing but a bunch of low rent football racketeers.

In addition to the company itself and its owner, the President of the league - a Traffic Sports guy - and the guy who took Chuck Blazer's place as CONCACAF General Secretary, Enrique Sanz - another Traffic Sports guy - have all been variously indicted, had criminal confessions unsealed and been banned from any connection to football by FIFA's Ethics Committee.

(Talk about progress:in 2011 when Warner and Blazer resigned, Alfredo Hawitt took over the Presidency and Ted Howard took the GenSec spot. Now, in 2015, after another scandal, the same two guys are back in the same jobs once again. They're the permanent CONCACAF bullpen)

You probably know by now that USSF has mandated that in order to keep their official Division 2 status within the US Soccer pyramid the league must have representation in three timezones including both coasts and time is running out.

I'm thinking that "everybody who ran our league is under indictment" isn't the best kind of sales pitch to prospective owners.

Which would be bad enough even if USL wasn't in the process of applying to USSF for that Div 2 status.

And even if all seven NASL teams that played US Open Cup matches last week against USL sides hadn't lost, and the better league sides weren't running for MLS - welcome Minnesota, sorry about that whole United thing - as fast as they can write the checks.

It's also just too bad that no one in Havana today will inquire about the status of the FIFA investigation of the Cosmos President Seamus O'Brien and Singapore based World Sports Group.

As discussed in this space previously, WSG got now-disgraced Asian Confederation President Mohammed bin Hammam to sign a "Master rights agreement" giving them exclusive broadcast rights for pretty much everything the AFC does for the next decade.

Which would be smelly enough even if a Price Waterhouse audit hadn't concluded tha the contract was grossly underpriced because WSG paid bin Hammam a ginormous bribe to sign it.

Which in turn created a slush fund which may very well have been used to, among other things, shovel money around the globe in support of the Qatar World Cup, bin Hamma's erstwhile Presidential campaign and the $40,000 envelopes Jack Warner passed around that fatefulday in Trinidad.

O'Brien refuses to answer questions about it and refuses to talk to FIFA's investigators. 

And fortunately for everyone, the former AFC employee who stole the files and turned them over to police suddenly found very lucrative employment in Qatar someplace. As did his wife. They don't answer the phone any more.

In other words, between O'Brien/WSG and Davidson/Traffic Sports, they found a true love match in NASL.

They complete each other.

So anyway, enjoy the match. Try not to think about how, this time next year, the NeoCosmos may be the Harlem Globetrotters of soccer: a team that exists in limbo, doing the confetti-in-the-water-bucket stunt for crowds of delighted children.

Pele will love it.