Sepp Blatter believes the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be the “best ever” after FIFA’s president visited Sochi to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
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Blatter, 79, and FIFA have come under intense scrutiny for allowing the tournament to go ahead in Russia amid a financial meltdown, which and intense military action by Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Despite all of that — and several other issues regarding human rights and Russia’s strict laws against homosexuality — Blatter spoke to TASS news agency from Sochi and the leader of world soccer’s governing body waxed lyrical about Russia’s 2018 bid, adding that FIFA only focuses on soccer, not politics.
Here are a few extracts from Blatter’s comments, as Putin promised that the World Cup would be on the same scale as the 2014 Winter Olympics held in Sochi.
“I am a happy and proud president. I am proud that Russia is getting ready to host the World Cup,” Blatter said. “A lot of this is happening thanks to President Vladimir Putin, but also due to the Sports Minister (Vitaly) Mutko and (Alexei) Sorokin (CEO of the Local Organising Committee). They are a true team and have a wonderful working relationship.”
“Some people are wanting the World Cup to be taken away from Russia, but we will give one answer to this – we are involved in football and we will not allow politics to get in the way.”
“Everything is going to plan and nothing will get in the way of Russia hosting the best ever World Cup. The economic situation is not the best, but I know it will get better.”
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