World football boss Sepp Blatter said Tuesday that FIFA categorically
backs Russia's staging of the 2018 World Cup and praised its
"FIFA unconditionally supports the staging of the World Cup by Russia,"
he told the R-Sport news agency in comments translated into Russian.
Diplomatic sources said last month that European nations were discussing
a British-backed plan to boycott President Vladimir Putin's showpiece
staging of the World Cup because of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
"A boycott will never give any positive effect," Blatter said, adding: "We trust the country, its government."
"Russia is the world's biggest country. You know, Russia is in the eye
of the international media. Football can not only unite Russia but show
the whole world that it is stronger than any protest movement," Blatter
He compared the situation with Russia's hosting of the Winter Olympic
games hosted by Russia in the Black Sea resort of Sochi this year, when
Western leaders stayed away.
"There was the same situation ahead of Sochi, but neither during nor
after the games, has there been a single word against these games."
Blatter said that he was happy with Russia's progress in its preparations for hosting the 2018 World Cup.
"I can say that in comparison with Brazil, Russia is considerably ahead
of schedule with four years remaining before the event's start," Blatter
Blatter travelled to Moscow to participate in a ceremony on Tuesday
evening to present the 2018 World Cup logo. The ceremony starting 11:30
pm Moscow time (8.30pm GMT) will be televised and the new logo will be
projected onto the facade of Moscow's legendary Bolshoi Theatre.
The FIFA boss added that the opening ceremony of the 2018 World Cup
could take place a day ahead of the tournament's opening match kick-off.
"It's possible," he said.
"We tried to do that at the 2006 World Cup in Germany but it didn't work well.
"But I'm confident that in 2018 the ceremony should go off earlier.
There are three stadiums in Moscow where we can hold the event's opening