MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin has endorsed Sepp Blatter’s bid to secure another four years at the head of FIFA and accused the US Justice Department of involvement in a plot to oust him writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Russia will host the 2018 World Cup finals as a result of the vote in the FIFA executive committee in December 2010 which also awarded the 2022 finals controversially to the Gulf state of Qatar.
Blatter has come under pressure after legal action yesterday in both Switzerland and the United States over corruption allegations against 14 men including two FIFA vice-presidents, Jeff Webb (CONCACAF) and Eugenio Figueredo (South America).
Putin, asked about his faith in Blatter, said: “Mr Blatter has every chance of being re-elected on Friday – and we know about the pressure being exerted on him to prevent the World Cup going ahead in Russia.
“We appreciate his position, which has nothing to do with any special relationship between FIFA and Russia: it’s his overall position of principle that sport and politics should be kept separate.
“Not only that but he believes that sport should have a positive impact on policy and serve as a platform for dialogue, for reconciliation, for the search for solutions. I believe that it is the absolutely correct position.”
Putin questioned the basis and timing of the action launched by the United States Justice Department in handing down corruption indictments against 14 football officials and marketing executives.
He said: “These officials are mostly not American citizens and, if anything happened, it did not happen in the United States.
“This is another blatant attempt by the US to extend its jurisdiction to other countries and, I have no doubt, an obvious attempt to prevent the re-election of Mr Blatter which is a flagrant violation of the principle of the international organisations “.
Putin suggested that the US Justice Department was guilty of the “persecution” of foreign nationals similar to its reaction after the whistleblowing of former US intelligence officer Edward Snowden and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
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