MOSCOW: If Ukraine qualify for the World Cup finals in Russia in 2018 they will be placed in a different group to their hosts.

That was the only consideration FIFA president Sepp Blatter would concede to international tension as he arrived in Moscow ahead of the unveiling of the World Cup emblem across the facade of the Bolshoi theatre.

Blatter dismissed concern against a boycott, as suggested by some foreign politicians because of the Russian military action in and around the Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

He said only: “FIFA usually separates countries into different groups during the draw of qualifying and final tournament of the world when there are strained political relations between states. The different groups usually spread teams of Russia and Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“So you can be sure of this.”