ST PETERSBURG, Russia - FIFA has passed a resolution offering full support for holding the 2018 World Cup in Russia, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said on Saturday at a meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
“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 said at the meeting in St Petersburg ahead of the preliminary draw.
Blatter announced that he was quitting in June after a major bribery scandal being investigated by U.S., Swiss and other law enforcement agencies that plunged soccer’s governing body into the worst crisis in its 111-year history.
The scandal has cast a cloud over the forthcoming World Cups in Russia and Qatar, but Russian officials have dismissed any suggestion Russia could be stripped of the contest.
Putin alluded to the crisis at FIFA but his comments were relatively cautious compared with his previous staunch defense of Blatter and his organization.
“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.
In May, when the scandal broke, Putin harshly criticized the U.S. investigation into FIFA as meddling in matters that were outside its jurisdiction.
On Saturday Putin also pledged to host a World Cup where both domestic and foreign players and fans would feel at home, promising “a grandiose international sporting festival”.
An economic crisis in Russia has forced cut-backs in World Cup preparations, but Putin and FIFA officials have said this will not affect Russia’s ability to host the championship.
Writing By Jason Bush; Editing by Tom Heneghan