Russia hosting the 2018 World Cup will have a big influence on the whole world and may help to keep society in peace, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said on Friday.
“Russia is a big country, more than a continent, and the World Cup here will have a big influence on the whole world, a world who is marching. If you look at the Middle East and North Africa, everybody is marching, marching, marching and with football you can keep our society a little bit quiet,” Blatter told RIA Novosti in an interview. “There is a power behind it and you know the power of your leaders,” he added.
The FIFA president also said when he spoke with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev after the decision on Russia hosting the 2018 championship was announced that they both had agreed that football is a “national matter.”
Blatter arrived in Moscow on Thursday and was met by Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who declared Russia’s support for the reelection campaign of the head of the world football’s governing body.
The blitz visit, which will be over by Friday afternoon, includes a presentation on Russia’s preparations to host the 2018 World Cup followed by talks with the country’s football authorities.
“There are no more small football teams. But Russia, I think, is still a power in football,” Blatter said.
Since Russia was announced the host of the 2018 tournament, work has restarted on new stadiums for Moscow clubs Dynamo and Spartak. The clubs’ plans were put on hold by the global financial crisis in late 2008 that hit Russia’s construction industry hard.
Mutko, the head of the Russian Football Union until November 2009, said Thursday Blatter had praised Russia’s preparations so far.
The FIFA presidential elections are scheduled for June 1 during the organization’s congress in Zurich. The longtime FIFA chief is being challenged by Mohamed Bin Hammam, the head of the Asian Football Confederation.
MOSCOW, May 6 (RIA Novosti)