Russia: FIFA's Blatter was under pressure to deny Russia World Cup hosting rights - Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin said FIFA boss Sepp Blatter had been put under pressure to prevent Russia from hosting FIFA World Cup 2018, while commenting on the arrest of senior FIFA officials on Wednesday during an interview at the Lomonosov Moscow State University in Moscow on Thursday. Putin also stated that Russia and FIFA had never had "special relations." The Russian president made the comments after the Swiss federal prosecutor launched an inquiry on Wednesday into the bidding process for the FIFA 2018 and 2022 World Cup competitions. FIFA's headquarters in Zurich were raided and documents seized by Swiss authorities. Simultaneously on the same day, seven senior FIFA officials and executives were arrested at the Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich as part of a US investigation into corruption. The group of suspects may be extradited to the United States to face charges of "racketeering, conspiracy and corruption" alongside seven other FIFA officials and corporate executives. The individuals are alleged by federal prosecutors to have used partnerships with sports marketing executives to gain $150 million (€137 million) in bribes in exchange for their backing on several competitions. The arrests come just two days before a vote to re-elect the head of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, who is running for a fifth term at the age of 79.

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