Don’t be surprised when Sepp Blatter crashes soccer’s biggest party next summer.
The former FIFA president told Agance France-Presse on Friday he’ll attend the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, having been personally invited by Russia president Vladimir Putin. Blatter currently is serving a six-year ban from FIFA but he remains in Putin’s good graces, despite the sanction.
“I will go to the World Cup in Russia,” Blatter told AFP, per Sky Sports. “I received an invitation from President Putin. I don’t know how long I will go for, whether I will be there for the opening match or the final.
“Because I can’t work in football and I don’t have an assignment to do, maybe I will only make a short visit.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov confirmed Putin’s World Cup 2018 invitation to Blatter.
“You know that Putin and Blatter have for a long time been, you could say, friends,” Peskov reportedly said.
FIFA also confirmed to Sky Sports that Blatter is welcome to attend games and other events as something akin to a private citizen with no affiliation to any soccer organization.
“As long as he (Blatter) has no official function, this should be fine,” a spokesman said.
Blatter presided over FIFA for 17-plus years, starting in 1998 and ending in June 2015 when he stepped aside in disgrace amid the FIFA corruption and bribery scandal. FIFA subsequently banned him over a $2 million payment he made in 2011 to former protege Michel Platini.
But Putin probably couldn’t care less, given the fact Blatter supported Russia’s ultimately successful bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
Thumbnail photo via Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport/USA TODAY Sports Images
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