Moscow - Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the arrests of top FIFA
delegates in a US probe as an attempt by Washington to oust Sepp Blatter
as head of the organisation.
"This is clearly an attempt to block
the reelection of Blatter as president of FIFA and is an extremely
serious breach of the principles of how international organisations
work," Putin said in televised comments broadcast Thursday, accusing the
United States of trying to "spread its jurisdiction to other
Russia is due to host the World Cup in 2018 and Putin
claimed that Blatter has previously rejected "pressure put on him with
the aim of banning" the event in Russia.
Moscow and the West are
locked in a standoff over the crisis in Ukraine and some hawkish US
senators have called for the 2018 World Cup to be withdrawn from Russia.
authorities arrested seven FIFA officials on Wednesday as part of a US
probe into allegations of vast corruption inside world football's
A separate Swiss investigation is looking into
alleged wrongdoing in the allocation of the 2018 event to Russia and the
2022 championship to Qatar.
The FIFA elections - if they go
ahead as planned - are to be held in Zurich on Friday, with Blatter
seeking a fifth term and facing a sole challenger, Prince Ali bin
al-Hussein of Jordan.