Kremlin distances self from graft allegations over 2018 World Cup
The Kremlin on Tuesday “categorically” denied allegations that Russia had bribed FIFA officials for the right to host the 2018 World Cup.
“Russia absolutely legally got the right to organise the World Cup,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
He said the decision was “not linked to any bribes, we categorically deny this.”
“Russia organised the best football World Cup in history. We are proud of it,” he added.
According to US Justice Department documents released on Monday, FIFA officials received bribes to vote in favour of awarding the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the tournament in 2022 to Qatar.
“We have read the articles in the media. We do not understand what it is about,” Peskov said.
The allegations are linked to a wide-ranging 2015 corruption scandal that left world governing body FIFA in turmoil and led to the downfall of then-president Sepp Blatter.
In the ensuing years, the US government has accused a total of 45 people and various sports companies of more than 90 crimes and of paying or accepting more than $200 million (Sh20 billion) in bribes.
Two former executives with US media giant Fox were charged with corruption, bank fraud and money-laundering on Monday as US federal prosecutors shed fresh light on the scandal-tainted bidding war for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Former 21st Century Fox employees Hernan Lopez, 49, and Carlos Martinez, 41, face charges along with 65-year-old Gerard Romy, who worked for Spanish media conglomerate Imagina.
The three men are accused of paying millions in bribes to officials from CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, the governing bodies for football in South America and North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
The charges allege the bribes were paid in exchange for lucrative television rights contracts for regional competitions, the Copa America and qualifying games for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. -AFP