ST PETERSBURG: Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted that his country won hosting rights to the 2018 World Cup perfectly properly but was supportive of efforts to rid FIFA of corruption writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Putin was answering media questions on the sidelines of an investment forum in the wake of the world football federation’s corruption crisis. Allegations of corruption in the voting for the 2018 and 2022 awards has promoted calls for the ballots to be rerun.

This, for Putin, was a non-starter. He said: “We honestly fought for and won the right to host the tournament. We do not believe that the vote should be revisited.”

Domenico Scala, independent chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, has suggested that the awards to Russia and Qatar could be reviewed if significant evidence of corruption were to emerge.

Putin said: “If anyone has evidence of corruption in the process they should come forward. But again, we won our bid in an honest way. FIFA is confident about our preparations and we have begun construction of the new stadiums. ”

As for the various corruption investigations, Putin said they had his support qualified by an insistence that “it must be justice that dictates whether someone is guilty of any irregularity.”

He expressed concern that doubts about the World Cup hostings in Russia and Qatar were part of a geopolitical strategy being developed by the United States, Britain and Germany.

Shortly after the arrests of seven senior football officials last month in Zurich on the eve of FIFA Congress Putin suggested that “there is a desire to prevent Blatter’s re-election and, ultimately, to cast doubt on the Russian World Cup hosting.”