Sepp Blatter gives backing to Russia

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Outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter told Russian president Vladimir Putin that the world governing body has complete trust in the country hosting the 2018 World Cup.

Blatter met Putin ahead of the draw for the qualifying competition for the finals and the pair then shared the stage at the ceremony at St Petersburg's Konstantinovsky Palace.

The 79-year-old made no mention of the crisis that has engulfed FIFA, saying in his speech: "Today is an important day in the long and winding road to the World Cup 2018. We are on track, Russia will be a fantastic host. It will be a wonderful moment for Russia, the rest of the world and for football.


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"Hundreds of thousands of visiting fans will come to Russia for the first time in their lives and will be met with warmth, friendship and real Russian hospitality."

Earlier, Blatter said to Putin there was "complete trust" in Russia's ability to host the tournament - significant given that the Swiss attorney general is investigating the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

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Blatter said: "We say 'yes' to Russia. Our support is especially important during the current geopolitical situation."

In response, Putin said to Blatter: "As promised, we will do all we can for sportsmen and fans alike to feel at home here."

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