MOSCOW, April 7. /TASS/. Russia has firmly refuted all allegations that corruption was involved when the country was granted the right to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.
"We have read media reports and we cannot understand what is it all about," Peskov said commenting on the US accusations against a number of former high-ranking FIFA officials. "Russia was granted the right to host the world championship on an absolutely legal basis and it has nothing to do with some kind of bribery, which we categorically reject."
Peskov also stressed that Russia had organized the best world football championship in the history of FIFA and "the whole country is proud of it."
On Monday, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York published an indictment, which claims in particular that some high-ranking officials with the world’s governing body of football, FIFA, were bribed in exchange for their votes in support of Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively.
According to the statement posted on the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, "schemes alleged in the Indictment relate to the payment and receipt of bribes and kickbacks in connection with, among other things, contracts for the media and marketing rights to additional soccer events and FIFA’s selection of the countries to host various editions of the World Cup, including the World Cup hosted by Russia in 2018 and the World Cup scheduled to be hosted by Qatar in 2022."
A chain of corruption scandals rocked FIFA almost five years ago. Everything flared up with an unprecedented scandal on the morning of May 27, 2015, one day before the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, where nine of the organization’s high-ranking officials were arrested in a hotel in Switzerland on bribery, money laundering and corruption charges. In all, charges were later pressed against 14 FIFA officials.
Ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who was 79 years old at that time, FIFA’s then-Secretary General Jerome Valcke and then-president of UEFA Michel Platini were dismissed from their posts in the course of the notorious corruption scandal.
2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia
Russia won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich on December 2, 2010. The victory came following a tight race against England’s bid, and two other joint bids: one from Portugal and Spain and the other on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.
The country hosted its first-ever FIFA World Cup in 2018, which kicked off in Moscow with a remarkable opening show at Luzhniki Stadium on the evening of June 14 and ended with a spectacular final match, played also at Luzhniki Stadium, where France confidently defeated Croatia 4-2 to win the much-coveted World Cup Trophy.
Russia provided 11 host cities across the country as venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they were Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said after the world championship that Russia had staged "the best World Cup ever." According to the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism, some 2.9 million foreign visitors arrived in Russia for the FIFA World Cup.
In late December 2018, FIFA announced in its statement that the World Cup in Russia set a new record as far as audiences go in the history of world football championships since over half of the world’s population watched the matches on TV at home, out of home or on digital platforms.