Blatter accepts Putin invitation to 2018 World Cup

The former FIFA chief, who is suspended from all football activities for six years, says he will attend the tournament in Russia

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has announced he has accepted an invitation from Russian president Vladimir Putin to attend the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Blatter spent 17 years leading FIFA until a corruption scandal brought down him and many officials in the world’s governing body, including former UEFA chief Michel Platini.

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A six-year suspension from all football activities, reduced from eight years on appeal, was the punishment for Blatter, who was found to have accepted £1.6 million in improper payments from Platini.

However, Blatter fully intends to take in the 2018 World Cup, which was awarded to the nation while he was FIFA president, in person despite the ban.

"I will go to the World Cup in Russia. I received an invitation from President Putin," Blatter told the AFP news agency.

Blatter acknowledged the ban in his comments, and admitted he is uncertain of which matches he will attend and for how long.

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"I don't know how long I will go for, whether I will be there for the opening match or the final.

"Because I can't work in football and I don't have an assignment to do, maybe I will only make a short visit."

There is precedent in Blatter attending even with the ban in place, as Platini was able to do the same during the 2016 European Championship.