Russia has reacted with characteristic fury over speculation that the corruption investigation into FIFA could cost it the right to host the World Cup in 2018. And with good reason -- it stands to lose a lot.
Russia's winning bid to host the World Cup in 2018 is looking increasingly shaky following the widespread charges of endemic corruption against top officials and executives within FIFA, including fraud, bribery and money laundering.
High-ranking international soccer officials were arrested early Wednesday as part of a U.S. investigation into corruption at the sport's governing body. Meanwhile, a separate Swiss investigation was also launched in relation to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids – won by Russia and Qatar, respectively.
Russia was quick to say it would both cooperate with the investigations, while condemning them at the same time. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the arrests of officials appeared to be an illegal attempt by the U.S. to impose its laws on foreign states.
Meanwhile on Thursday, President Vladimir Putin echoed those sentiments and said the arrests look "very strange," Reuters reported. Putin also said the U.S. investigation was the latest attempt to stop FIFA's President Sepp Blatter, from being re-elected at FIFA's awkwardly-timed presidential elections on Friday – and Russia from holding the World Cup in 2018.