The intended departure of FIFA president Joseph Blatter will not negatively affect Russia’s hosting of the 2018 World Cup, Russia’s sports minister says.
“This tournament is the gem of football. It is the image, face and economy of football,’’ minister Vitaly Mutko told reporters late on Wednesday.
“It’s not the property of Russia. It’s the property of football’s entire global community. No change in leadership can affect it,’’ Mutko told a news conference about Russia’s preparations for the tournament.
While adamant that the championship will go off without a hitch, Mutko staunchly defended the current president.
“Blatter has worked at FIFA for 40 years. In my opinion, under Blatter’s leadership FIFA has become one of the most powerful organisations in the world,” Mutko said.
The FIFA executive committee will decide on July 20 when to hold the special congress required to elect Blatter’s successor. Blatter promised to lay down his mandate just days after being elected for a fifth term on May 29 but has since insisted he has not resigned.
U.S., authorities are currently investigating allegations of large-scale corruption at FIFA, and several high-ranking FIFA officials were arrested by Swiss police in May.
Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the arrests at the time, calling them a blatant attempt by the U.S., to expand its jurisdiction to other countries.
Russia plans to spend a total of 10.3 billion euros (11.4 billion dollars) on the World Cup, including building or upgrading a dozen stadiums across 11 cities.