It is one of the most debated questions in the soccer world: Messi or Ronaldo? While many people believe that Messi is perhaps the best player to ever grace the field, Ronaldo is arguably just as talented. Thus, when presented with an opportunity to question Sepp Blatter, the President of FIFA, students at Oxford University had to ask Blatter whom he preferred. Blatter's answer would not be the one Ronaldo hoped to hear.
Blatter started his response by stating that "Lionel Messi is the good boy every mother and father would like to have at home. He's a good man. He's very fast. He's very fast. He's not exuberant. He's playing well, he's really, he's dancing. He's a kind man. He's really good. He's a good boy. And that's what makes him so popular and naturally he'll always get a lot of votes because he is this nice man. And he plays well and scores goals."
While Blatter did not outright say that he preferred Messi, it is fairly obvious from his statement that Blatter wishes Messi was his own progeny. So what did Blatter have to say about Ronaldo?
"And the other one [Ronaldo] ... this is something else. The other one, he is like a commander on the field of play, bah bah bah [does impersonation of Ronaldo]. This is the other side of football, and that's good to have such commanders on the field also because you don't have the same attitude. That gives life to football. One has more expenses for the hairdresser than the other but that doesn't matter."
It's understandable to see why Ronaldo could have taken exception to the latter statement concerning the hairdresser. It's not Ronaldo's fault that he makes 7 million more euros per year than Messi. Perhaps that even gives more credence to the idea that he is the better soccer player. Wouldn't the best player make the most money?
However, why Ronaldo takes exception to the former comment is befuddling. Commanders lead their troops into battle, and their decisions ultimately determine the outcome of the battle. So why is being considered a general a bad thing?
Whatever the offense, Ronaldo took to Facebook to voice his anger...in a very subdued and backhanded fashion:
Not only did Ronaldo respond, but Florentino Perez, Real Madrid's club president, sent a letter to Blatter demonstrating how offensive the club found the FIFA president's comments to be:
We, at Real Madrid, a club which has a special connection with FIFA in view of our position as a founding member, are profoundly disappointed by the whole episode and, as President of Real Madrid, I want you to know that we condemn your comments, which is why we would ask that you retract them to make up, to the extent possible, for the damage caused both to the player and the institution that we represent.
Wanting to stop the situation from escalating too far, Blatter promptly sent a return letter apologizing for his actions:
I regret that this situation at a university ceremony has caused you so much distress and I would like to apologise for it. It was never my intention to cause discomfort or show a lack of respect to Real Madrid FC, one of it players or its support, not only because it is the founding club of FIFA but also because it is a club that I have followed and admired since I was a child.
Taking his gesture one step further, Blatter also issued a Twitter-apology to Ronaldo himself:
In the end, this ordeal seems to be a bunch of drama over nothing. Blatter was asked to respond to a question and he did so in a fashion he deemed appropriate. In watching the video, it appears that Blatter attempted to answer the question without answering it, as all good politicians and leaders have a tendency to do. It is hard to believe that Blatter meant the general comment as an insult, and there is sure to be some meaning lost in translation seeing as Blatter is not a native English speaker. The hairdresser comment was most likely Blatter's poor attempt to humor the audience; No guest speaker ever wants to be a bore.
So what did we learn today? There is a reason why soccer fans are labeled as the most rabid in the world - the soccer community is capable of making the most mundane of issues become front-page stories.
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