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, because of corruption allegation in the award of 2018 World Cup soccer. He said the World Cup would be held in Russia in 2018 as scheduled.
Russia had won the bid, Putin said, in a fair and square and even the FIFA international investigation had not found any evidence of corruption. “If someone has evidence, this should bring that forward,” he told visiting wire service journalists who met him here. He also said Russia is against any rebidding.
The United Kingdom has expressed its desire to host the football World Cup, in case FIFA decides to take it away from Russia. But Putin said the UK had not put in adequate effort to win the bid to host the Cup. “You did not actually do enough to win,” he told select journalists, including IANS, meeting him at the presidential residence in the city.
The journalists, who are here to cover the St Petersburg International Economic Forum and met the president for over two hours around midnight, posed questions on the alleged corruption in FIFA. Putin said that all details should be investigated in a transparent manner, and no one country should try and prosecute citizens of other countries.
He said he was grateful to FIFA for aiming to expand the game to a much wider group of countries than before. The FIFA scandal had recently hit the headlines, forcing the newly election president Sepp Blatter to resign.
The United States and Switzerland have launched investigation 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)