Russian President Vladimir Putin says former FIFA president deserves Nobel Prize. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
Rough Cut (no reporter narration) STORY: FIFA President Sepp Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize for his stewardship of soccer's governing body, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. On Saturday (July 25), at a meeting with Putin in St Petersburg, Blatter said that FIFA, facing a major bribery scandal, had passed a resolution offering full support for holding the 2018 World Cup in Russia. In June, Blatter announced he would quit over a bribery scandal being investigated by U.S., Swiss and other law enforcement agencies that plunged FIFA into the worst crisis in its 111-year history. Some officials have been indicted, although Blatter himself has not been implicated and he denies any misconduct. Russia's Putin defended Blatter in a Swiss TV interview on Monday, a copy of which was made available to Russian station RU24 by Kremlin officials. In it, Putin said people in Blatters' position deserved "recognition and gratitude". "We all know what situation is developing around Mr Blatter right now. I don't want to go into details but I don't believe a single word about him being involved in corruption personally," said Putin. "I think people like Mr Blatter or the heads of other big international sporting federations, or the heads Olympic Games Committees, these people deserve special recognition and gratitude from public organisations. If there is anyone who deserves the Nobel Prize, it's those people. Because they, they are improving the mechanism of close cooperation between countries and make great humanitarian contribution to the development of good neighbourly relations between people and countries," he added. The scandal has cast a cloud over the forthcoming World Cups in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, but Russian officials have dismissed any suggestion Russia could be stripped of the contest. In May, when the scandal broke, Putin harshly criticised the U.S. investigation into FIFA as meddling in matters that were outside its jurisdiction. He rekindled that criticism in the interview broadcast on Monday and widened it to include Britain, noting that those two countries had bid to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. "The United States as far as I understand bid for the 2022 World Cup, and their close ally in Europe, Great Britain bid for 2018. And so the way there is this fight against corruption makes me wonder if it isn't a continuation of the bids for 2018 and 2022." An economic crisis has forced cut-backs in Russia's World Cup preparations, but Putin and FIFA officials have said this will not affect Russia's ability to host the championship.