MOSCOW, NNC - Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter received an open invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the World Cup in Russia and intended to come, Blatter spokesman Thomas Renggli said on Tuesday (6/12/2018) evening local time.
Blatter, who led the world football body for 17 years, was suspended from the sport for six years for a code violation in 2015 amid the biggest corruption scandal that rocked FIFA.
Officials of the agency have been detained by US and Swiss authorities, although Blatter himself has not been arrested and has denied any allegations of violation.
The 82-year-old man's presence at the World Cup could make himself close to his successor, Gianni Infantino, who has drawn a tough line to separate him from scandals in the past.
FIFA did not comment when questioned about Blatter's plans.
Renggli said the Swiss man has not yet decided whether he will travel to Russia or what match he will see but he certainly will not attend the opening ceremony or the inaugural match between Russia and Saudi Arabia on Thursday.
Blatter was FIFA's president when Russia won the right to host the World Cup in 2010, ahead of England, as well as several other countries, in his bid.
In 2015, Putin said Blatter deserved the Nobel Prize for his dedication to the world football body, and he believed Blatter is not a person involved in corrupt activities.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in October that both Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini, who was also suspended following ethical investigations, would be welcomed at the World Cup as Russia's "old friend".
The tournament, which will take place in 11 cities in 12 stadiums, will run from June 14 to July 15, Antara reported.