Moscow (AFP) – Disgraced former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter defied a ban to attend World Cup matches and arrived in Russia on Tuesday at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin.
“I’m not here to comment the game. I’m here to enjoy the World Cup,” Blatter told reporters before stepping inside a luxurious Moscow hotel.
The 82-year-old is being investigated by Swiss prosecutors for alleged corruption during his 17-year reign as head of world football’s governing body.
The Swiss national was suspended for six years by FIFA in 2016 from football-related activities over a 1.8-million-euro ($2 million) payment to former UEFA chief Michel Platini.
Former FIFA spokesman Thomas Renggli told AFP that Blatter would meet Putin on Wednesday.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday he did not know whether any meeting had been planned.
Last October Blatter announced he had received an invitation from Putin to attend the June 14 to July 15 showpiece which Russia is hosting..
The two men developed a close relationship after FIFA’s disputed decision in 2010 to award this year’s tournament to Russia instead of England.
FIFA said it had no comment to make on Blatter’s trip.
Blatter is slated to watch Wednesday’s game between Portugal and Morocco in the Russian capital and might also attend Brazil’s match against Costa Rica in Putin’s native Saint Petersburg.
Putin is not scheduled to be at either match.