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NOVOGORSK /Moscow Region/, June 8. /TASS/. The recent hype concerning than investigation into the election of the hosting countries of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, which are Russia and Qatar respectively, is aimed against Russia, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Monday.
"Such machine has been operating for two and a half years already," Mutko told journalists. "Everything is tuned up against Russia and everybody understands what the eventual aim is and it is to inflict some sort of damage on Russia. It can be moral, social or political [damage]."
"If there was something serious, everybody would already know about it," the sports minister said. "As for now, it turns out that we are the most honest. What I am afraid of now is some kind of slander. Media reports say that I was summoned for questioning [as part of the investigation] and I… keep saying that it was not so. I see no reasons for it as we all worked consistently and honestly."
"There must be no retroaction for the law," he said. "[FIFA] Ethics Committee, which investigated the process of the 2018 and 2022 bidding campaigns, ruled that there were no grounds [for the claims]. However, it [the committee] issued recommendations, which should be introduced to the process of the future bidding campaigns."
Russia won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup over four years ago in a tight race against the joint bid from England, Portugal and Spain and the joint bid on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Russia selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
The matches of the 2018 World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15 at 12 stadiums located in the 11 mentioned above cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital.
The 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 28-29 was marred this year by arrests of FIFA officials earlier in the week.
An unprecedented corruption scandal flared up in FIFA on morning of May 27 as seven of the organization’s high-ranking officials were arrested in Switzerland on bribery, money laundering and corruption charges. The scandal involves two separate criminal proceedings.
Firstly, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York is conducting a criminal investigation into the awarding of media, marketing and sponsorship rights for soccer tournaments in the United States and Latin America. Secondly, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General is conducting a criminal investigation into the selection of Russia as the host country for the 2018 World Cup and Qatar as the host country for 2022.
The arrests of the seven FIFA top officials were made by the Swiss police at the request from the US authorities and they are now facing extradition to the United States.
The US Department of Justice said in its statement on May 27 that a total of 14 people (nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives) were indicted for racketeering conspiracy and corruption.
On top of all, shortly after FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced his plans to resign last Tuesday, some media reports informed that the FIFA chief was being investigated by the FBI and US prosecutors as part of the corruption case in the organization.
Blatter, 79, was reelected for his fifth consecutive four-year presidential term on May 29, when his only rival Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan pulled out after the first round of vote. However, addressing a news conference in Zurich on June 2, Blatter said he decided to lay down his mandate at FIFA extraordinary elective Congress.