Messi and Co. Provided Antidote to Unsavoury Machinations of Blatter and Fifa

Lionel Messi, Barcelona

What did you watch on television last weekend? I'm taking a wild stab here, but I'm guessing the attraction was more the Champions League final than news items about Sepp Blatter and Fifa.

It was indeed a thoroughly enjoyable final. With a display of sublime passing and movement, Barcelona beautifully outplayed a Manchester United side who looked lumbering by comparison as representatives of a Premier League that is not quite as accomplished as it likes to think it is. In fact, United did well to keep the score to 3-1.

In England, we did try to talk up United's chances in the week of build-up but I always felt that Barca would prevail. They are in the flush of greatness, United still some way short.

Best side of all time? Certainly in the 35 years I have been covering football, I cannot recall any so purringly pleasing as Barca. Internationally, we all loved Brazil of 1970; at club level, the Ajax and Bayern Munich of the '70s were classes apart, along with Liverpool of the '80s and Milan of the early '90s.

This Barcelona side have been champions of Europe three times in six seasons in an era when winning the competition is more arduous, however. Not only that, they play consistently with a touch, vision and fluency to show that the game can be, at its best, almost an art form.

Lionel Messi best player of all time? A few years too soon to judge, but having seen him play in an Under-20 Championship for Argentina at the age of 17 six years ago, I knew then I was witnessing a player with the potential to be among the greatest. What has been satisfying is seeing him go on to achieve that potential.

There is only one reservation about Messi that you hope will be answered over the next two World Cups.

At Barca, he is playing in a great side, surrounded by other marvellous talents such as Xavi and Andres Iniesta. The same could be said of Pele with Brazil.

What made Diego Maradona the best, in these eyes, was his ability to drag ordinary sides, from Argentina of 1986 to the Napoli who won their only two Italian titles, up by their bootstraps to great levels with his talent, courage and generous appreciation of less gifted colleagues.

If Messi can lift Argentina and lift a World Cup in Brazil in 2014, then he will surely have deserved to end the arguments about the best of all time.

Messi has prospered in the modern era for a reason other than his dribbling skills, close control, change of pace, bravery and eye for space and goal. It is also due to the greater intolerance of foul play that Fifa introduced in the 1990s, ironically after a dull 1990 World Cup when Argentina kicked their way to the final then disgraced themselves against the Germans in Rome.

Perhaps the world governing body might like to recall the good they did at that time as the main reason for their existence, rather than the badness within them that is now threatening their very being.

The stench out of Switzerland grows daily with Jack Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam now suspended in an alleged bribes scandal but President Blatter ridiculously surviving a cursory investigation of his own conduct that ensures he will be returned unopposed in this week's "election".

Gentlemen of Fifa, we are disgusted by your corruption, we despise your feathering of nests. We care about Wembley, about glory, about debates over the greatest sides and player, not you and your bloated sense of your own importance.
We know what we want to watch and it is not you posturing. Get back to what the game is really about or risk more ridicule - and ruin.