Virtue is often a matter of perspective. For example, Sepp Blatter is currently reviled around the soccer world as the smug criminal mind at the top of FIFA's fraudulent empire.

So what if he's been pressured to resign his post, with plans to do so early next year?

To Russian president Vladimir Putin, Blatter remains a good man -- one of the best, in fact, and deserving of recognition.

High recognition.

"I think people like Mr. Blatter or the heads of big international sporting federations, or the Olympic Games, deserve a special recognition," Putin said to a Swiss TV station, according to Reuters. "If there is anyone who deserves the Nobel prize, it's those people."

That quote wasn't a joke. It just sounds that way.

Then again, can you fault Putin for his stated feelings? This is the man, after all, who recently used the Winter Olympics in Sochi to elevate the global reputation of his country, effectively using the sporting event to announce Russia's return as a world power.

Meanwhile, Putin allegedly used some well-timed bribes to buy votes from the FIFA executive committee that awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia.

Putin has also been very critical of the U.S. investigation that brought down several key members of FIFA and disrupted the hierarchy of its current leadership. The U.S., Putin argued, is operating outside of its jurisdiction by involving itself in FIFA matters.

Putin reiterated that point to Swiss TV and lumped in England's leadership with the United States.

So it's important to remember: Blatter has been a valuable ally for Putin. Blatter's exit from FIFA leadership is a ding on Putin's efforts to build a trusted network of powerful connections, particularly, it seems, in the sporting world.

So if he sounds crazy when defending his beleaguered old buddy, just remember: Putin has millions of reasons to stand by Sepp.

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