Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States of meddling in FIFA’s affairs and hinted that it was part of an attempt to take the 2018 World Cup away from his country.Putin said in televised comments today that he found it “odd” that the probe was launched at the request of US officials for crimes which do not involve its citizens and did not happen in the United States.
Corruption charges in the US were announced yesterday against 14 people, with at least two of them holding American citizenship. Seven of the 14 were arrested yesterday in Zurich ahead of a FIFA meeting and tomorrow’s presidential election in which Sepp Blatter is expected to win a fifth term.
In a separate probe, Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings into FIFA’s awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.Putin said even if “someone has done something wrong,” Russia “has nothing to do with it.” He then tried to portray the probe as a US attempt to go after dissenters, likening the case to the persecution of whistleblowers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.
“Our American counterparts, unfortunately, are using the same methods to reach their goals and illegally persecute people. I don’t rule out that this is the case in relation to FIFA,” Putin said.