FIFA Scandal: Vladimir Putin Accuses U.S. of Meddling
"This is another attempt to extend its jurisdiction to other states," the Russian president says.
Russian president Vladimir Putin on Thursday criticized the U.S. for interfering with FIFA business. The comments came a day after arrests of several high-level officials of the world soccer governing body in Zurich amid a U.S. request for their extradition, followed by a 47-count indictment detailed by the U.S. Department of Justice.
"This is another attempt to extend its jurisdiction to other states," Russian news agency TASS quoted Putin as saying about the U.S. corruption and racketeering charges.
Accusing the U.S. of meddling with FIFA's affairs, he said it seemed to want the organization's president, Sepp Blatter, removed.
"I am totally sure that this is an open attempt to make sure that Mr. Blatter isn't re-elected FIFA president, which is a blatant violation of international organizations' principle of operation," Putin said. Blatter is expected to win a fifth four-year term in the FIFA presidential election set for Friday.
In televised comments, Putin added that he was "well aware" of the pressure on the FIFA boss for awarding the 2018 World Cup to Russia.
Putin also told TASS that the FIFA controversy had "nothing to do" with Russia. FIFA has signaled it doesn't plan to revisit a decision to hold the 2018 soccer World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar,
Putin also compared the methods used against FIFA officials with those used against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
"Unfortunately, our U.S. colleagues use such methods for achieving their mercenary goals and they are doing it unlawfully, persecuting people," the Russian president was quoted as saying by the news agency Interfax. "I don't rule out that it is the case with the FIFA affair, although I don't know how it will end."
Meanwhile, some Russian legislators accused the United States of initiating the investigation partly as an attack against Russia. "[The investigation's] goal is much broader than just taking the World Cup away from Russia," Nikolai Levichev, the State Duma's deputy speaker, told Russian TV network NTV. "They want to discredit Russia in the eyes of the international community."