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SAMARA, June 10. /TASS/. Nothing threatens the organizations of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and the only concern is the slanderous speculations in regard to the global tournament, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Wednesday.
"I see no threats to our world championship," Mutko, who is also a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, told journalists. "The law has no retroaction force and there are definite regulations for bidding campaigns. We have acted in line with the regulations."
"We tuned in to the philosophy of FIFA and were convincing," Mutko said. "On top of all we had strong support from the government. The only thing I am afraid of concerns slanderous speculations. Somebody writes something and then I would have to be making justifying explanations."
"I am not one of the most involved officials in the affairs of FIFA, but I am a member of the Executive Committee," Mutko said. "I saw how the rights to host world championships and Olympics were handed out and how the top government officials participated in it. Our [Russian] president and premier were not even present at the elections."
Commenting on the recent corruption scandal that hit FIFA and allegations about wrongdoings in granting the 2018 World Cup to Russia and 2022 World Cup to Qatar, Mutko said "there is no sense in keeping rocking the boat."
"It would have been a completely different matter if there were facts," he said. "We have nothing to be ashamed of. We put our soul in everything that we did."
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.
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.