Moscow: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has done a great deal to develop football and co-operation between peoples and nations and, therefore, deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
Blatter is currently serving a 90-day provisional suspension from football related activities due to alleged corruption and is being investigated by the United States and Swiss authorities. He has resolutely denied any wrongdoing.
He is due to step down from his high-profile position next year with presidential elections due to be held in Zurich on February 26 to elect a successor.
“His contribution into the world’s humanitarian sphere is huge as he was always trying to use football not only as sports but also as an element of cooperation between countries and nations,” Putin said at his annual news conference here.
“That’s who should be given the Nobel Peace Prize,” he said calling Blatter a very respected man.
According to the president, Blatter is a respected person who does a lot for development of football in the world.
Putin also stressed that world football’s governing body FIFA granted Russia the right to host 2018 World Cup as a result of fair competition, with the aim of developing football and without any elements of pressure or corruption.
“We know 100 percent that we got the right to host 2018 World Cup as a result of fair competition,” Putin said adding that he himself took FIFA delegations across the country as a prime minister, showed them how many people in Russia love football and how important it is for the country.
“FIFA listened to us and made this decision on holding 2018 World Cup in Russia with the aim of developing world football and not for any corruption considerations,” Putin stressed adding that Russia “could not have exerted any pressure.”
Putin is certain about the presence of “intrigues” in the FIFA corruption affair and that the United States should not try to spread its jurisdiction to other countries and organisations regarding the scandal in world football.
“Of course, there are intrigues. No way of escaping them,” Putin said in reply to the year-end news conference.
“I’ve said so all the way the most important thing is not a single country must or have the right to spread its jurisdiction to other states, let alone international organisations.”
He dismissed as unacceptable the practice of “grabbing” people and bringing them to one’s national territory for investigation.
“First of all it is essential to work on equitable terms, transparently, openly, and in a partnership-like way with all countries of the world, and not dictate its jurisdiction to anyone,” the Russian leader said.
“Are there elements of corruption inside FIFA? Investigation will show. There are no results for the time being,” Putin said.