It's not every day that you get the chance to hold forth about fair play to the head of world football, still enmeshed in ongoing FIFA controversy (see the post below). But my mate Giles Fraser did recently - and tells the tale in The Church Times, of all unlikely places.
“It wasn’t a sermon,” said Sepp Blatter with a rather grizzly gravitas: “it was a message.” ... I guessed it was a compliment because of the accompanying air of bonhomie. He explained: “You and I think the same.” This came from a man dogged by accusations of financial mismanagement and corruption. I smiled, weakly. My sermon to mark the 150th anniversary of the world’s oldest football club hardly broke new ground in the realm of moral theory. I had suggested that football was in danger of losing its soul to money and celebrity, and went on to aver that the very first football club — Sheffield FC [pictured] — could teach most other professional teams a thing or two about the real heart of the beautiful game. ... The gathered glitterati of world football looked uncomfortable in church, and sang as enthusiastically as Fulham on a wet February afternoon. I spoke about the way football has the ability to break down barriers of class, colour, religion, and language. The congregation half-listened, with bullet-proof indifference... I had found no route past their defences.
Read the whole piece here. But be warned, Giles is a Chelsea fan. At least he knows what existential peril that puts him in, though.