Sepp Blatter trusts Vladimir Putin and Russia over World Cup
Departing Fifa president emphasised his faith in 2018 host nation at qualifier draw
Sepp Blatter stated his trust in Vladimir Putin and Russia over the 2018 World Cup at the draw for the qualifying groups in St Petersburg. Photograph: Afp
Blatter met Putin ahead of the draw for the qualifying competition for the finals and the pair then shared the stage at the ceremony at St Petersburg’s Konstantinovsky Palace.
The 79-year-old made no mention of the crisis that has engulfed FIFA, saying in his speech: “Today is an important day in the long and winding road to the World Cup 2018. We are on track, Russia will be a fantastic host. It will be a wonderful moment for Russia, the rest of the world and for football.
“Hundreds of thousands of visiting fans will come to Russia for the first time in their lives and will be met with warmth, friendship and real Russian hospitality.”
Earlier, Blatter said to Putin there was “complete trust” in Russia’s ability to host the tournament — significant given that the Swiss attorney general is investigating the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Blatter said: “We say ‘yes’ to Russia. Our support is especially important during the current geopolitical situation.”
In response, Putin said to Blatter: “As promised, we will do all we can for sportsmen and fans alike to feel at home here.”