Asked whether there was any risk that Russia could lose its right
to hold the tournament due to the complicated political situation,
Putin said: "I hope not. (World soccer's governing body) FIFA has
already said soccer and sport are outside politics and I think that
is the right approach."
Senior FIFA members attending meetings in Monaco were unaware of
Putinís remarks when approached by Reuters, and could not comment.
FIFA's media department was not immediately contactable.
Moscow has faced calls for the finals to be moved elsewhere because
of its role in the Ukraine crisis and its occupation of Crimea.
Republican U.S. senators Dan Coates and Mark Kirk cited Yugoslavia's
exclusion from the 1992 European Championship and 1994 World Cup
over the wars in the Balkans when they pressed such demands in a
letter to FIFA.
FIFA stated in July that it remained committed to the 2018 World Cup
in Russia, saying a boycott would not be an effective way of
reducing tensions in the region.
"History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy
of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to
solve problems," FIFA said.
A total of 2,593 people, including civilians as well as Ukrainian
and separatist combatants, have been killed in fighting in eastern
Ukraine since it erupted in mid-April, a senior U.N. human rights
official said on Friday.
[to top of second column]
Following Russia's annexation of the Crimea in March, European soccer's
governing body UEFA said it would not recognise any matches played by
Crimean clubs under the auspices of the Russian Football Union (RFS).
Russia will host the 2018 World Cup at 12 stadiums in 11 cities,
including two venues in Moscow.
The most westerly venue is Kaliningrad, the main city in an exclave next
to Poland and Lithuania.
(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk, additional reporting by Mike Collett,
writing by Toby Davis and Thomas Grove, editing by Jason Bush and Ed
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