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Kobe Bryant: FIFA corruption ‘damages the emotional Shangri-La you get from sport’

Photo credit: AFP.

Photo credit: AFP.

NBA legend Kobe Bryant called the eight-year bans issued Monday to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini an “important first step” in cleaning up global soccer. The 37-year-old Los Angeles Lakers guard, a five-time NBA champion and twice an Olympic gold medal winner, is in his 20th and final NBA campaign, announcing his retirement last month.

The American spent several years as a youth in Italy playing soccer and supporting AC Milan. He follows the sport and was clear in his condemnation of Blatter and Platini, barred for abusing their positions over a suspect $2 million (1.8 million euro) payment.

“It’s always a touchy thing. You are dealing with a big business,” Bryant said.

“I think this is an important first step to cleaning up the sport.

“With life being as brutal as it is, we come to sport as an escape. When something like this happens, it damages the emotional Shangri-La you get from sport.”

Bryant had confidence that those making efforts to revamp FIFA in the wake of the corruption will succeed.

“I’m sure they are on top of it and I’m sure they will get the sport back where we all want it to be,” Bryant said.

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