The FIFA President was in Moscow on Wednesday, where he met with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Youth, Tourism and Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko and the President of the Russian Football Association. Featuring high on the list of topics discussed were Russia's candidature for the FIFA World Cup™ in 2018 or 2022 and the important social role the global game can play.
The White House in Moscow was the venue as President Joseph S. Blatter met for talks with Vladimir Putin. "I was very honoured to be received by Mr. Putin, someone I have known for a long time and with whom I share a passion for sport in general and football in particular," explained the FIFA President. "We speak the same language."
Their conversation turned to the issue of Russia's candidature for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, with their rivals including England, Australia, the United States, Indonesia, Japan, Spain and Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands, Korea Republic (2022) and Qatar (2022). Mr Putin is naturally standing firmly behind his country's bid.
"Organising a tournament with such prestige would have a catalysing effect on the development of football throughout eastern Europe and especially in the former Soviet Union," he explained.
I share a passion for sport in general and football in particular with Mr Putin. We speak the same language.
The two dignitaries also addressed the issue of development and football's social role. "We have a football development programme which is due to run until 2015," said the Russian Prime Minister. "Federal funds have been made available for that and the regions have also granted sums. Between now and the end of the year, we intend to build 600 new pitches, including indoor ones."
Mr Putin likewise stressed football's social and cultural impact throughout the world, particularly in a country with a mixed heritage. That was a point then taken up by Mr Blatter, who stated: "It has to be said that football is a school of life. A youngster who plays football will not necessarily become a champion, but he'll learn about solidarity, respect and fair play."