Beleaguered FIFA president Sepp Blatter will take any support he can get at the moment, but even he must have winced on hearing that he has received the full backing of Vladimir Putin.
The Russian President has backed the leadership of Blatter, a day after world football’s governing body was mired in controversy by the prospect of dual criminal corruption investigations in the United States and Switzerland.
“This is clearly an attempt to block the reelection of Blatter as president of FIFA and is an extremely serious breach of the principles of how international organisations work,” Putin told Russian television on Thursday.
Putin’s support for Blatter came as the FIFA leader cancelled a public appearance in Zurich and major international sponsors threatened to withdraw their support from FIFA.
Putin was highly critical of the US’ involvement in FIFA affairs on Thursday.
“This is yet another blatant attempt [by the US] to extend its jurisdiction to other states,” Putin said.
Russia, it should be noted, is scheduled to host the 2018 World Cup. However, given the Swiss criminal investigation into the bidding process for both the 2018 and 2022 finals, one can understand why the Russian President is standing shoulder to shoulder with Blatter during these difficult times.