Putin rubbishes Blatter claims
Moscow - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday backed FIFA president Sepp Blatter, calling all corruption allegations against him "rubbish".
"What I see right now makes me perplexed, to put it mildly, to accuse the Swiss, Blatter, of corruption - that is utter rubbish!" Putin said, commenting on the FIFA bribery scandal to journalists in his Moscow region residence.
FIFA announced Friday that they have opened a probe into alleged corruption against president Sepp Blatter following a request by Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam, who is to challenge Blatter in FIFA presidency elections on June 1.
Blatter will appear before FIFA's ethics committee on Sunday after claims he knew about alleged cash payments at the centre of an investigation targeting Bin Hammam.
"I am sure that it will not influence the process of selecting the next FIFA president," Putin said.
"Blatter has certainly done a lot for developing global football, that is an evident fact," he said, quoted by the government's official website.
"If my opinion was asked, I would certainly vote for Mr. Blatter."
FIFA last year awarded Russia the right to host the 2018 World Cup after a Putin-led campaign that upset the England bid, in a battle of wits that often turned ugly amid veiled attacks and allegations of vote collusion.