Putin hits out at ‘odd’ US probe

Russian president Vladimir Putin has accused the US of meddling in Fifa’s affairs and hinted that it was part of an attempt to take the 2018 World Cup away from his country.

Putin said he found it “odd” that the probe was launched at the request of US officials for crimes which do not involve its citizens and did not happen in the US.

Corruption charges in the US were announced on Wednesday against 14 people, with at least two of them holding American citizenship, and linking them to banks in the US.

Putin said even if “someone has done something wrong”, Russia “has nothing to do with it”. He tried to portray the probe as a US bid to go after dissenters, likening the case to the persecution of whistleblowers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

“Our American counterparts, unfortunately, are using the same methods to reach their goals and illegally persecute people,” Putin said. “I don’t rule out that this is the case in relation to Fifa.

“I have no doubt that this is yet another evident attempt to derail Mr Blatter’s re-election as Fifa president. We are aware of the pressure that he was subjected to in relation to Russia holding the 2018 World Cup.”

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