Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Russia’s right to host the 2018 football World Cup on Thursday and accused the United States of meddling outside its jurisdiction in the arrest of top officials from world governing body FIFA.
Putin said the arrests in Switzerland on Wednesday were an “obvious attempt” to prevent FIFA head Sepp Blatter’s re-election this week but that the 79-year-old had Russia’s backing.
“If anything happened, it did not happen on U.S. territory and the United states has nothing to do with it,” he said. “This is yet another blatant attempt (by the United States) to extend its jurisdiction to other states.”
The world’s most popular sport was plunged into turmoil this week when seven senior football officials were arrested on U.S. corruption charges to face extradition from Switzerland.
Swiss authorities also announced a criminal investigation into the awarding of the next two World Cups, including the 2018 tournament which was granted to Russia in 2010 by a committee containing two of the indicted FIFA officials.
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