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10 Sep, 2021 10:37

Russia has critics because Putin is strong and should work with the US as ‘political protagonists’ – ex-FIFA boss Blatter (VIDEO)

Russia has critics because Putin is strong and should work with the US as ‘political protagonists’ – ex-FIFA boss Blatter (VIDEO)

Ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter wants "strong" Russia and the US to work together as "huge protagonists" in the political world that he believes football has moved into.

Former boss Blatter, who will start a new ban from football of six years and eight months when his current suspension ends next month, has said that Russian president Vladimir Putin has risked the wrath of some in order to make his country a major political force globally.

The 85-year-old called the decision by the World Anti-Doping Agency to make Russian competitors perform under a neutral sporting flag for two years a "pity", adding that it remains a "political matter" with the potential for Russia and the US to drive wider peacemaking efforts.

"I cannot intervene with what is right or not right but, during my term of office, we never had a problem with Russian football and doping," Blatter told Ren TV, speaking about his controversial time at the FIFA helm between 1998 and 2015.

"I have never been involved in that – I can only talk about football. It just shows how much football has changed from social, cultural and economic dimensions and come into politics.

"This is a political matter. In world politics, Russia plays a very important part thanks to their boss.

"If you are strong, there will be people who don't like you, who don't like heads of state who are too strong. You should also look at the USA, concerning doping."

Six years into his ban from football following an investigation by FIFA's ethics committee, Blatter has said he enjoyed the World Cup in Russia in 2018 – which he accepted an invite to attend – and wanted the 2022 edition to be held in the USA rather than Qatar.

“I must add that, personally, I have never been thrilled with a [tournament in] Qatar," he said. "In 2010, we talked a lot about football for peace.

"In my opinion, this idea should first be revealed in Russia, and then in the United States so that they are together – two huge political protagonists."

The man who was found to have accepted undue economic benefits worth almost $25 million during his term said he considered reforming the World Cup so that it takes place every two years – a concept that is now being discussed and widely derided again.

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"At that time, I myself realized that this was a terrible idea," admitted Blatter. "It is impossible to implement according to the international calendar.

"We started the World Cup with 16 teams, then there were 24, then 32. Thirty-two teams is an ideal number.

"Now there are 48 teams in general. This is not very good, in my opinion. Very difficult. This is a fact.

"The new presidents of FIFA [led by Gianni Infantino] have a different idea of ​​how football should look like. You need to be careful not to spoil what has been created over the years."

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