Blatter tells politicians to 'leave sport alone'


  • Football
  • Saturday, 21 Mar 2015

ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter told politicians to leave football alone on Friday and said the 2018 World Cup could stabilise the situation in host nation Russia.

"There has been increasingly more interference (in football) with cases in Africa, in Europe, in South America... and that is why I made the executive committee take a decision which means, in a nutshell, stop this political interference in sport," Blatter told a news conference.

His comments came after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday called on his allies on to boycott the tournament if Russia did not pull its troops out of his country's territory.

"The World Cup will take place in Russia in 2018, it is sure," Blatter said.

"They are working very hard and a boycott of the World Cup any sporting event has never brought any solutions.

"On the contrary, (the World Cup) will be able to stabilise the situation in this region of Europe."

Blatter added that the United Nations had passed a resolution last year recognising the independence of sport.

"We don't talk about independence but autonomy when it comes to organising our competitions, the UN resolution mentions that political authorities should not interfere and intervene in the sport, the message is leave sports alone.

"I'm sure football is stronger than any other movement and I'm looking at the geopolitical map today, towards Afghanistan, towards Iraq, towards Syria, towards Palestine, in these countries football is played.

"Syria, in such a difficult situation, yet the Under-17 teams has qualified for the World Cup in Chile this year, this shows what football is and football has never been the objective of any attack in this region.

"Football is respected, it is connecting people and this will be the same with the World Cup."

Blatter also pointed his finger at the European parliament.

"I speak about interference when the European parliament committee is asking for the boycott of the World Cup," he added.

"First, three or four months ago it was boycott the World Cup in Qatar, now they are asking to boycott the World Cup in Russia, this is direct interference."

FIFA's executive committee reiterated Blatter's views.

"In reaction to various cases of political interference, the executive, while reiterating the necessary respect towards national legislation, called for a stop to interference by political bodies in the affairs of football's governing bodies," it said.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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