International soccer organization FIFA will spend $185 million next year on preparations for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, a top official said. Allegations of corruption have marred Russia’s successful bid to host the event, particularly after Swiss and U.S. authorities coordinated to arrest and indict several current and former FIFA executives this week.
The next World Cup will be held from June to July across 12 Russian host cities, including Moscow and St. Petersburg. All of FIFA’s 208 member associations have applied to join the event, with a preliminary draw slated for July of this year. Aside from the $185 million expenditure in Russia, FIFA will spend $4 billion on international soccer between now and 2018, FIFA Financial Director Markus Kattner said in an address at the FIFA Congress on Friday, according to Russian news outlet TASS.
Russian President Vladimir Putin characterized this week’s arrests of top FIFA officials on corruption and racketeering charges as “another blatant attempt by the United States to extend its jurisdiction to other states,” the New York Times reported. Putin also defended current FIFA President Sepp Blatter, in a move seen by some as an attempt to protect Russia’s right to host the 2018 World Cup. A vote to re-elect Blatter is scheduled for Friday.
“I have no doubt that this is obviously an attempt to prevent Mr. Blatter’s re-election to the post of FIFA president, which is a grave violation of the principles that international organizations function on,” Putin said.
FIFA has repeatedly refused to strip Russia and Qatar of hosting rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, despite allegations of rampant corruption in the bidding processes. The organization hired independent investigator Michael J. Garcia to investigate any wrongdoing but opted late last year not to publish Garcia’s findings in their entirety -- a move that prompted Garcia to resign in protest, the New York Times reported.
Soccer delegates from around the world met at the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich Friday, where proceedings were expected to culminate in a presidential election pitting longtime incumbent Blatter against his lone challenger, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan. Blatter was not among the FIFA officials indicted Wednesday amid allegations that they accepted nearly $200 million in bribes in exchange for preferential voting and event hosting rights, but his inability to stamp out corruption in FIFA has bolstered Prince Ali’s chances of an upset victory when voting concludes Friday.