Published: Wed, June 20, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter to attend Portugal's clash with Morocco

Ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter to attend Portugal's clash with Morocco

Disgraced former Federation Internationale de Football Association boss Sepp Blatter defied a ban to attend World Cup matches and arrived in Russia on Tuesday at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin.

A spokesperson for the 82-year-old Swiss on Monday told dpa Blatter was planning to fly to Moscow on Tuesday ahead of the game.

Blatter, who led the organisation for 17 years, is serving a six-year ban for unethical conduct after FIFA's global corruption scandal in 2015. Both did essential work to help ensure Russian Federation won the tournament hosting rights eight years ago. "I said why not Ireland?"

Putin will be at Portugal vs. Morocco on Wednesday and then Brazil vs. Costa Rica on Friday.

His appearance at the World Cup in Russian Federation is potentially embarrassing for FIFA and its new head, Gianni Infantino, who has promised to clean up the organisation.

The Russian Football Union honorary president Vyacheslav Koloskov, who played an important role in securing the tournament, was quoted by Russian news agency RIA Novosti as saying he meant to meet with Blatter.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday he did not know whether any meeting had been planned.

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Blatter pointed out that the new "one person, one vote" ballot system that resulted in the United States, Canada and Mexico being chosen as hosts for the 2026 World Cup last week was one of his legacies.

Speaking in an interview with Russian news channel RT, Blatter said he had advocated for Russia to be chosen as the World Cup host in 2010.

A Swiss criminal proceeding was opened against Blatter in September 2015 for alleged financial misconduct, but no charges have been made.

Swiss Blatter, who was suspended in 2015, also said he felt "abandoned" by Federation Internationale de Football Association and that he should have stepped aside earlier.

Blatter remains an instantly recognizable, if often polarizing, figure to generations of football fans.

"I have known Blatter since 1980".

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