Vladimir Putin implies that Sepp Blatter merits Nobel Prize
"I think people like Mr Blatter or the heads of big international sporting federations, or the Olympic Games, deserve special recognition," Putin said in an interview on Swiss broadcaster RTS. "If there is anyone who deserves the Nobel Prize, it's those people."
Putin appeared alongside the outgoing FIFA president during Saturday's World Cup qualifying draw, amid ongoing investigations into corruption within world football's governing body. But Putin has defended Blatter against accusations of misconduct: "We all know the situation developing around Mr Blatter right now. I don't want to go into details but I don't believe a word about him being involved in corruption personally," he said.
Blatter has told Putin that he has "complete trust" in Russia's ability to host the 2018 World Cup, despite the Swiss attorney general's investigation into the bidding process. Putin has already insisted that the competition will go ahead in the country, and he has now reiterated his criticism of the investigations and questioned the motivation behind them. "The way there is this fight against corruption makes me wonder if it isn't a continuation of the bids for (the) 2018 and 2022 (World Cups)," Putin said.
The Nobel Peace Centre, the board behind the Nobel Peace Prize, severed its ties with FIFA earlier this year.