MOSCOW: Vitaly Mutko has blamed FIFA’s corruption crisis for the problems confronting both the world federation and the Russian 2018 World Cup organisers ¬†for problems filling their sponsorship gaps.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister and former Sports Minister refuted suggestions that it was the choice of Russia as host which had contributed to the crisis.

As reported by RIA Novosti Mutko – who also heads the World Cup local organising committee and the Russian Football Union – said: “FIFA has no difficulty finding sponsors only for the 2018 World Cup, FIFA generally has difficulty in finding sponsors.

“FIFA has been accused of corruption and is the cause of its own losses,” he added, referring to “colossal losses in terms of image” for the institution.

Mutko was reacting to a Financial Times report comparing the 20 sponsors for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with the current 10 for next year.

Russia has struggled with bad publicity from the sports doping scandal as well as the economic and political effects of the Crimea takeover.

FIFA has yet to replace two main sponsors, Sony and Emirates.

Mutko, who also heads Russia’s football union, was barred last month from re-running for his seat at the FIFA Council in light of his position as deputy prime minister.

FIFA’s governance committee ruled that Mutko was ineligible to run based on its principles of “political neutrality and the prevention of any form of government interference”.

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