FIFA has passed a resolution offering Russia full support for holding the 2018 World Cup. FIFA President Sepp Blatter made the announcement ahead of the World Cup’s preliminary draw in St. Petersburg.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced on Saturday that football’s governing body had passed a resolution offering Russia full support for holding the 2018 World Cup.
“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 Russia in 2018,” Blatter told Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the World Cup preliminary draw.
Beyond the scandal?
Blatter’s visit to Russia is the first since FIFA’s worst corruption scandal emerged after US and Swiss authorities declared they were investigating senior officials of football’s governing body over charges of racketeering, bribery and corruption.
Putin referred to the ongoing scandal briefly during the meeting.
“We see what is happening around football, but I know how you regard this and we are grateful that you are concentrating your attention primarily on sport,” Putin said.
When the scandal broke out in May, the Russian president voiced his support for Blatter ahead of the FIFA president’s reelection. However, a week later, Blatter said he would be resigning come 2016 when elections are due to take place.
Putin added during the meeting that World Cup would be a grandiose international sporting event,” in which players and fans – both domestic and foreign – would feel at home.
“It is a good chance to visit a multi-faceted and open Russia that can surprise and inspire,” Putin said, adding that there would be “a special atmosphere of unity and overwhelming joy.”
The preliminary draw – attended by 141 of FIFA’s 209 member federations in St. Petersburg – witnessed World Cup champion Germany ease into a relatively safe group, which included Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan and San Marino.
Meanwhile, Group G revealed tension as it slated World Cup champs Spain against Italy along with Albania, Israel, Macedonia and Liechtenstein.
Group A also proves difficult for the Netherlands as it slated the Dutch against Euro 2016 hosts France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus and Luxembourg.
ls/bw (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)