‘2018 World Cup not affected by change of FIFA chief’

Moscow, July 9 (IANS) Whoever succeeds Sepp Blatter as FIFA president, Russia will not lose the 2018 football World Cup, Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko has said.

Blatter announced his decision to step down last month in the aftermath of the US and Swiss investigations into allegations of corruption in FIFA, including the voting for the 2018 and 2022 (Qatar) World Cups.

Mutko, a member of the FIFA executive committee, on Wednesday expressed confidence that any new president would give “full support” to Russia hosting the 2018 World Cup, reports Xinhua.

“It’s not Russia’s project. It’s FIFA’s project. No change in the management can ever change anything,” Mutko said through an interpreter at a briefing to foreign journalists assembling in Moscow for a tour of the 11 World Cup cities.

“I see no threat here,” he added.

FIFA’s executive committee will meet on July 20 in Zurich to decide when a new presidential election will be held.

Russia has supported Blatter over the years and Mutko praised the FIFA chief as “a world class official who has made the organisation a world class one”.

“I know many federations that could interest FBI as well. It’s not the worst organisation,” Mutko said of the Federal Bureau of Investigation probing without elaborating, “(It has) 209 countries (and regions) and many confederations. Someone can be corrupt but what does Blatter have to do with this? I see there’s a certain goal.”

“Why didn’t we support Blatter? We don’t see any reason not to support him,” he added.

But Mutko admitted that the image of football has been derogated and the sport “need to reclaim the trust”.

“Football will be able to win back the trust if someone doesn’t have a goal to kill football. Football doesn’t belong to anyone. It belongs to all of us,” he said.

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