FIFA's Infantino: Russia says economic crisis won't affect World Cup

Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:25pm EDT
 
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By Jack Stubbs

MOSCOW (Reuters) - FIFA President Gianni Infantino said on Tuesday he had received assurances from the Russian government that the economic crisis convulsing Russia would not affect preparations for the 2018 soccer World Cup.

Russia, which faces a second straight year of recession after its gross domestic product fell 3.7 percent last year due to lower global oil prices and Western sanctions, plans to cut state spending by 10 percent on average in 2016.

Its World Cup budget has been repeatedly slashed and was limited to 620.9 billion rubles ($9.38 billion) in February.

"Everyone knows, of course, the economic situation and we have received sufficient guarantees that this will not have an impact," said Infantino on his first visit to Moscow since being elected FIFA president in February.

"I think actually quite the opposite, I think that the World Cup can contribute to boost not only the football movement but the general economy here in Russia."

Speaking at a news conference with Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, Infantino also addressed allegations made against him in media reports citing leaks from the Panama Papers.

"It has already been clarified quite clearly that this story about these Panama Papers was absolutely a non-story because everything was done completely legally, properly, transparently, openly," Infantino said.

European soccer body UEFA has confirmed that Infantino, who was working for the organization at the time, was one of two officials who signed a contract to sell broadcast rights to two Argentine businessmen.   Continued...

 
FIFA President Gianni Infantino attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Alexander Nemenov/Pool