Home SPORTS Vladimir Putin: Sepp Blatter deserves Nobel Prize for FIFA work

    Vladimir Putin: Sepp Blatter deserves Nobel Prize for FIFA work

    Embattled FIFA President Sepp Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize for his work leading world soccer’s governing body, according to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

    Russia’s President made the comments in an interview with Swiss broadcaster RTS that was released Monday, two days after he and Blatter had gathered on stage in St. Petersburg for the preliminary draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

    “I think people like Mr. Blatter, the leaders of international sports federations or Olympic committees, deserve special recognition,” Putin told RTS. “If anyone deserves the Nobel Prize, those people do.”

    Putin didn’t specify which of the Nobel Prizes he was talking about. But the Russian leader’s glowing words may raise a few eyebrows in light of the large corruption scandal currently engulfing FIFA, which Blatter has headed for the past 17 years.

    Blatter, who has denied any wrongdoing, announced last month that he would step down from the top job. An election for his replacement is due to take place in February.

    Putin has defended Blatter previously, and he kept up his support in his comments to the Swiss broadcaster.

    “We’re all aware of the situation surrounding Mr. Blatter at the moment. I don’t want to get into the details, but I don’t believe a word about his being involved in corruption personally,” he said.

    The pressure on FIFA includes separate corruption investigations by authorities in the United States and Switzerland. The Swiss inquiry is focused on the bidding to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

    In the interview aired Monday, Putin renewed his criticism of U.S. authorities’ efforts to pursue FIFA officials around the globe.

    “The way this fight against corruption is being conducted leads me to wonder if it’s not a continuation of the fight for the 2018 and 2022 championships,” he told RTS.

    He noted that the United States was a candidate to host the 2022 World Cup, which ended up going to the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar, and that the United Kingdom, a close American ally, lost out to Russia for the 2018 tournament.

    Putin’s words of support for Blatter don’t tally with recent criticism from some of FIFA’s major sponsors, though.

    “We believe no meaningful reform can be made under FIFA’s existing leadership,” Visa’s CEO Charlie Scharf said last week.

    Credit: CNN.com


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