President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, let me wish you a warm welcome to Sochi.
We held the Olympic Games last year, and now Russia has the big task and enormous undertaking of preparing for the 2018 World Cup. This sports event is probably as big as the Winter Olympics in scale.
I don’t know how our teams will perform – this is a job for the specialists – but preparing to host the event is the authorities’ responsibility. Mr President, we will do our best not to disappoint you and all football lovers around the world.
We have made the many official decisions that you are well aware of. It is just as important to continue getting the facilities ready. This work has already begun and is going ahead actively. Everything is going according to plan. You are aware of the situation as we keep you regularly updated.
I am very pleased, of course, to have this chance to meet with you in person and discuss all of our common plans today and look at how the work is going. If you have any comments or suggestions, we, as you know, will always respond to them rapidly.
President of the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) Joseph Blatter (translated from Russian): Mr President, thank you very much for meeting with me today. It is a great honour for me to discuss with you the preparations for this big FIFA event, namely, the World Cup that will take place in Russia.
You said that you do not know how Russia’s team will perform at this event. For my part, I want to say that your organisational committee and you personally deserve top marks. This goes for the organisation and preparations for this competition. This is what I want to say, and I say this in full resolve.
You spoke about contacts and international cooperation. I can but affirm the same. We have indeed developed intensive contacts, and this applies too to your efforts at the international level to promote the football world cup. This work deserves our particular commendation because I see that more and more people around the world are taking an interest in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. If politicians are not too happy that we are taking the world cup to Russia, I always say to them, “Well, you can stay home, and in Russia we will hold the biggest world cup ever yet.”
I have been working for FIFA for 40 years now. Believe me, I have seen many world cups, but none have kept so tightly to plan. It is not just that your preparations are keeping to schedule, but that you are even ahead of the deadlines. We still have three years before the world cup, but FIFA and I personally are happy with the way the preparations for the event are going.
Mr President, I want to congratulate you and the Sports Minister on the way the preparations are going. At the same time, I want to congratulate the entire Russian people, who support the idea of holding the world cup here in Russia. This is something we can feel. This is good for you, good for FIFA, and good for football’s development.
Mr President, I want to share some recently published statistics with you. Around the world, 1.6 billion people are directly or indirectly connected to the football world. This makes the world cup a truly global event. I am pleased to see that Russia is part of an event that leaves no one indifferent around the world.
Football is a powerful team game that brings people together and builds bridges. We are looking forward to a world cup that will continue this mission in worthy fashion and bring together Russia and the rest of the world. And the rest of the world is football. This way, we will find unity through this game.
Football’s mission is really very simple: we need to look each other in the eyes and shake each other’s hands in the name of peace. This is the work we will pursue.
Vladimir Putin: Mr President, we will at the very least achieve one objective and will organise this big event in Russia. We will provide the conditions for developing football here in Russia. This will be another step towards developing football around the world in general. This we can promise you.
Joseph Blatter: Thank you.