St. Petersburg: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Sepp Blatter, chief of the world football governing body FIFA, have showed support for each other at the 2018 World Cup Preliminary Draw here. Putin met Blatter at the historical Konstantin Palace on Saturday shortly before the draw as the latter travelled abroad for the first time to attend a ceremony after the “anti-corruption” action launched by United States and Switzerland against a number of FIFA officials and the award of the 2018 World Cup to Russia, reports Xinhua.
Putin promised that Russia will do all they can to make the 2018 World Cup “a grand sports event”. He also praised Blatter for his efforts in this difficult time. “We see what’s happening around football but I know how you feel about it. We thank you for concentrating your time and attention on football above all despite this.” The US-led investigation of alleged corruption in FIFA and the bidding of the World Cup was viewed by Russian officials and Blatter as a kind of provocation against Russia.
During the FIFA scandal, Putin criticised the US for wrong law jurisdiction, and doubtful incentives to prevent the Russian World Cup as Blatter has been a firm supporter of Russia hosting the 2018 edition. “I would like to inform you that the executive committee has recently adopted a new resolution in which FIFA assures the Russian Federation of its full support in carrying out the World Cup in 2018,” Blatter told Putin. “We say yes to Russia, we are providing our support” and that the Russian people “can be proud” of Putin.
Eleven Russian cities will host the 2018 World Cup. They are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara. The tournament will be held from June 14 to July 15 in 2018 at 12 stadiums located in the 11 designated cities. The curtain-raiser and the final game will both be played in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.