Blatter tells Putin Federation Internationale de Football Association supports World Cup in Russia

Blatter and Putin met ahead of the qualifying draw in StPetersburg, the first time they have done so since football’s world governing body became engulfed in the worst scandal in its history.


In response, Putin said to Blatter: “As promised, we will do all we can for sportsmen and fans alike to feel at home here”.

Russian officials want to ensure the build-up to the World Cup finals is not marred by negative publicity in the same way as preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi were overshadowed by discussion of gay rights, high spending and allegations of corruption – denied by the Kremlin.

Putin alluded to Fifa’s current crisis, in which senior football officials have been indicted in the US on corruption charges.

The meeting was held just hours before Federation Internationale de Football Association picks the preliminary draw for most of its confederations at Konstantinovsky Palace near Putin’s hometown.

2012 European championship finalists Spain and Italy are also set for a heavyweight clash in Group G.

Among some of the more eye-catching European pairings was England being drawn with Scotland, the old rivals who played the world’s first worldwide in 1872.

In CONCACAF qualifying for the World Cup, Mexico was placed in the same group with Honduras and two other teams to be determined, while the United States was matched up against Trinidad and Tobago and two other teams that have not yet qualified for the fourth round.

In Oceania, the second round has two groups of four teams – and the top three in each group advance.



The ceremony will be conducted by a star-studded lineup including Brazilian legend Ronaldo, Samuel Eto’o and Italian World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro in grand surroundings at the Konstantin Palace. The winners of these pairs in the second round will encounter Cameroon, Tunisia, Guinea, Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Niger, Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cape Verde and Algeria, all nations which won the the second round. “We are here to launch a football marathon”, said Putin, again speaking through a translator. Nine group winners qualify while the eight runners-up with the best record against the teams first, third, fourth and fifth in their groups proceed to play-offs.

Ramos and de Gea