President Putin: outgoing FIFA head Sepp Blatter "deserves a Nobel Prize"

The Russian president said that Blatter -- and heads of big international sporting federations -- deserve "special recognition."

By Jared M. Feldschreiber

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, July 28 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with outgoing head of FIFA Joseph "Sepp" Blatter on the sidelines of the preliminary draw of the 2018 World Cup.

The preliminary draw for the 2018 World Cup, which Russia is slated to host, was held Saturday at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg.


Putin said after the draw that even while the world soccer's governing body is engulfed in a massive corruption scandal, Blatter deserves "special recognition," in an interview aired by Swiss public television, RTS.

"People like Mr. Blatter or heads of big international sporting federations, or the Olympic Games, deserve special recognition. If there is anyone who deserves the Nobel Prize, it's those people."

Blatter announced he would be stepping down following the arrest of seven FIFA officials as part of an investigation that had 14 people indicted on corruption charges. Blatter announced that he would call for elections to choose a new president, and has said he would remain in his position until a FIFA Congress could be held for his successor to be elected.


FIFA will vote on Blatter's replacement in February.

A separate criminal investigation by Swiss authorities into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were allocated is also underway, BBC News reported. The 2022 World Cup is slated to be held in Qatar.

"I don't want to go into details, but I don't believe a word about [Blatter] being involved in corruption personally," added Putin.

Russian officials have said that the 2018 World Cup will cost $18.2 billion, but that number will likely increase to $20 billion, reported ESPN.

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