MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia did not pressure football's governing body FIFA in order to hold the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
"If you remember, I didn't even go to the voting itself, I came after the vote was held so that I would not interfere at all or exert any pressure [on FIFA]. And there was really no way we could have exerted any pressure there," Putin told reporters
Putin stressed that Russia won the FIFA World Cup bid fairly. "We are 100 percent sure that we won the right to host the world championship in a fair competition," he said.
The football championship will take place amid a deepening corruption scandal that has engulfed FIFA since spring.
In May, the US Justice Department charged nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives with allegedly receiving some $150 billion in bribes. Later that month, Switzerland opened an independent investigation into the FIFA bidding process for the World Cup championships in 2018 and 2022, awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.
Russia has repeatedly denied allegations of foul play. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said in December that the World Cup tournament would prove the country’s transparent actions.