Vladimir Putin has said suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Blatter is under investigation in Switzerland over a two million Swiss francs payment made to Uefa president Michel Platini in 2011 for work carried out about a decade between 1998 and 2002.
Both Blatter and Platini are serving a 90-day ban from all football-related activities in connection with the investigation, with the football governing body to vote for a new head on February 26.
But Blatter is not short of friends in high places, one of whom, Russian president Vladimir Putin, has suggested that Blatter should be rewarded for his humanitarian work. In words that echoed satirist Tom Lehrer’s reaction on hearing that carpet bombing advocate, Henry Kissinger, had won the Nobel Peace Prize, Putin was unstinting in his praise of the suspended Fifa president.
“That is someone who should be given the Nobel Peace Prize,” Putin said.
“His contribution to the global humanitarian sphere is colossal.
“Whether there are signs of corruption in FIFA, the investigation must show. As for Joseph Blatter, he is a very respected person, he has done a lot for the development of world soccer.”
Moscow has always backed the outgoing FIFA chief, with Putin praising Blatter’s “experience, professionalism and high level of authority” earlier this year. That Fifa awarded Russia hosting rights for the 2018 World Cup is merely a coincidence. That decision, along with the 2022 World Cup being awarded to Qatar, remain the subject of a Swiss judicial investigation.
The Russian president said there were Western “machinations” behind the inquiry into FIFA corruption, launched in tandem with a US corruption investigation in which seven FIFA officials were detained in Zurich in May.
Putin insisted that Russia had not bribed any delegates to win the right to host the tournament, saying that Moscow’s bid had been “absolutely fair.”
We shall have to take his word for that.