St Petersburg, June 20 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected the need for a probe by his country against FIFA, the governing body of global football, following corruption allegation in the award of 2018 World Cup football.
He said the World Cup would be held in Russia in 2018. “That’s it.”
Russia had won the bid, Putin said, “fair and square” and even a FIFA international investigation had not found any evidence of corruption.
“If someone has evidence, this should be brought forward,” he told visiting wire service journalists who met him here at the end of the second day of St Petersburg International Economic Forum. He also said Russia was against any rebidding.
Britain has expressed its desire to host the football World Cup, in case FIFA decides to take it away from Russia. But Putin said Britain had not put in adequate effort at the bidding stage for the right to host the Cup. “You did not actually do enough to win,” he told a British journalist who asked the question at the meeting at the Presidential residence in the city.
The journalists, from a dozen countries, met the president for over two hours around midnight, posing questions on several issues, including on the allegations against FIFA.
Putin said the investigation into the FIFA scandal should be “detailed and transparent” and no one country should try and prosecute citizens of other countries. He criticised the US for prosecuting several football officials who were not American citizens.
He suggested that there was no need for an investigation by Russia since no allegations had emerged against anyone here of corruption. He said if FIFA were to take any action, such as cancelling the 2018 award of the World Cup, the “action would be illegal”.
He also said that he was grateful to FIFA for aiming to expand the game to a much wider group of countries than earlier.
The FIFA scandal had recently hit the headlines, forcing the newly re-elected president Sepp Blatter to resign.
The US and Switzerland have launched investigations and prosecution of former FIFA officials and others, in the biggest scandal to hit world football.
Putin said Russia went through the World Cup bid in a legal manner and had won it fairly. He said any argument of violation by FIFA or its officials would be settled in the court. “We are in favour of fighting against corruption and money laundering,” Putin said.
(Hardev Sanotra is in Russia at the invitation of St Petersburg International Economic Forum 2015. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)