MOSCOW – With four months to go before the football World Cup, both Russia and FIFA want to avoid any surprises. Hence FIFA President Gianni Infantino called on Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin to discuss World Cup preparations earlier this week.
The talks were initially scheduled to take place at Putin’s residence in the Black Searesort of Sochi. However, Putin stayed in the capital following Sunday’s plane crash near Moscow which killed all 71 people. Russian news agencies said Infantino offered his condolences to Putin over the tragedy.
This is the first meeting between Infantino and Putin since Vitaly Mutko decided last December to step down as president of the World Cup Host Organizing Committee.
Mutko resigned under pressure after being cited numerous times in the doping scandal that has permeated Russian sport. He was also Putin’s Deputy Prime Minister and Sports Minister.
Mutko has also been banned for life by the International Olympic Committee for his role in the doping scandal. His current replacement as the head of the Russian World Cup is Alexei Sorokin, Mutko’s right-hand for years.
The FIFA World Cup will take place between June 14 and July 15 across 11 cities in Russia. For the event, the host country has allocated 11 billion dollars to modernize its infrastructure. On a trip to Vietnam last week, Infantino said that “we’ll experience the best World Cup ever this summer in Russia.”-MercoPress