President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Blatter, I am very happy to have this meeting and this opportunity for us to get to know each other.
Naturally, I would like to begin this conversation by saying that we deeply value your input in promoting football around the world. Football is the most popular sport on the planet and it is greatly loved everywhere, including in Russia.
Russia is a northern nation. It’s 25 degrees [Celsius] below zero right now, but you can still find Russians playing football even in this weather. Thus, we pay a great deal of attention to promoting this sport.
Naturally, we hope that in the near future, our teams will also show some good results – including our national team. We are all holding our breaths.
I attended the last match played by the Russian national team [in Slovenia] with our Minister of Sport, Tourism, and Youth Policy [Vitaly Mutko], although unfortunately, our team did not perform very well there. In any case, I don’t think there’s any need to convince you of how much we love and appreciate football.
In this context, your visit to the Russian Federation presents us with an opportunity to discuss some relevant issues regarding the development of football in our nation and opportunities that may exist for us to host a high-level football competition.
President of Fifa Joseph Blatter (as translated into Russian): Mr President,
I must say that I am extremely happy to meet with you personally, especially at a time when the Russian Football Union is undergoing reforms that you initiated.
I would like to express my highest respect to you personally and high regard for your efforts to promote football in Russia. I would also like to sincerely thank you once again for the way you govern Russia.
As for football, this is clearly a very important sport. It is a game that thrills everyone around the globe and elicits many emotions at a time like now, when people need it most. Not everyone is doing well nowadays, and people need positive emotions, such as the ones they experience when watching football. I do not think that football can make the world a better place, but I do believe that it can help us build a better future for our youth and for the world.
When I talk about football in Russia and cooperation with the Russian Football Union, I am very happy that your Minister of Sports Vitaly Mutko is a member of FIFA’s executive committee. In other words, he is not simply a member of the Russian Government, but is also a member of the international football administration. One could say that he is among the 24 members of our global ‘Football Government.’
I can tell you that recently, we have seen some major achievements in the development of football in Russia. Naturally, this is due to the efforts of the Russian Football Union, as well as the achievements of the Russian national team, in spite of the fact that, unfortunately, the team didn’t qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa – but that’s how it goes in sports.
Overall, the development of football is progressing very nicely in Russia, and is also appreciated abroad. This is true both in terms of Russian football and its national teams, including the youth team and the women’s team, as well Russia’s professional clubs. There is a great deal of respect all around.
Football is not just a sport. It is a form of education, a culture. Football can also be described as the school of life.