President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he believes suspended Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who is under investigation for alleged corruption over his management of the world footballing body, should be given the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to the sport.
“That is someone who should be given the Nobel Peace Prize,” Putin said while talking about the ex- Fifa President who on Thursday appeared before the body’s ethics committee to answer corruption allegations.
“His contribution to the global humanitarian sphere is colossal,” the Russian leader said, suggesting that Western “machinations” were behind the ongoing inquiry.
Blatter is under criminal investigation in Switzerland over a two million Swiss francs ($2 million/1.8 million euros) payment made to vice president Michel Platini in 2011 for work carried out about a decade earlier.
Both Blatter and Platini are serving a 90-day ban from all football-related activities in connection with the investigation, with the football governing body to vote for a new head on February 26.
Moscow has publicly supported the embattled outgoing FIFA head, with Putin praising Blatter’s “experience, professionalism and high level of authority” earlier this year.
The Russian president said Thursday there were Western “machinations” behind the inquiry into FIFA corruption, launched in parallel to a US corruption investigation in which seven FIFA officials were detained in Zurich in May.
The Kremlin said at the time that the arrests were a bid to influence the re-election of Blatter, who alleged in October that a backroom deal saw Russia scoop the 2018 World Cup.
“No country can or has the right to extend its jurisdiction to other states, even more so to international organisation,” Putin said, referring to FIFA.
Putin on Thursday insisted that Russia had not colluded to win the right to host the tournament, saying that Moscow’s bid had been “absolutely fair.”