MOSCOW (AP) The Latest at the World Cup, including the FIFA Congress vote for the 2026 hosting rights, (all times local):
Russian President Vladimir Putin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino have praised each others work preparing for the World Cup.
Putin had a warm relationship with Sepp Blatter, who led FIFA when Russia was awarded the World Cup hosting rights in 2010. Blatter was ousted and banned in fallout of corruption scandals.
Putin says Infantino ”stood at the helm of FIFA in very complicated times but he is very good as our frontman, as a true fighter.”
The FIFA president has ”always positive sentiment toward our country,” Putin says.
With hundreds of thousands of fans expected to travel to the World Cup, Putin says visitors should ”feel the hospitality and welcoming nature” of Russia.
Infantino praises Putin for ”making us feel part of the same team” and thanks him ”from our hearts.”
FIFAs head of finance says he ”anticipates strong revenues” leading to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Thomas Peyer tells member federations that income from broadcasting rights will add up to 53 percent of FIFAs budgeted income of $6.56 billion over the next four years. Around 70 percent is already contracted.
The extra income lets FIFA promise $1.5 million annual grants to each of its 211 member federations. Thats a 20 percent increase.
FIFAs budget, which is typically conservative and eventually exceeded, calls for a $100 million overall profit through 2022. That should help lift FIFAs cash reserves close to $2 billion.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino says under his watch footballs governing body has transformed from ”clinically dead as an organization” to being ”alive and well.”
Infantino tells member federations that FIFA is now ”full of joy and passion with a vision for its future.”
The Swiss lawyer was elected in February 2016, nine months after American and Swiss federal prosecutors unsealed sweeping investigations of bribery and corruption linked to senior FIFA officials.
Infantinos speech at the annual congress of 211 members signals the next presidential election period starting.
The next FIFA election is June 5 next year in Paris. Infantino, who succeeded Sepp Blatter, is yet to confirm his candidacy for a new four-year term.
Infantino says FIFA now has ”absolute transparency” in its finances, with more than $6.1 billion income for the 4-year commercial cycle tied to the World Cup in Russia.
This was achieved ”despite the worst crisis FIFA has experienced,” he says.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to speak to global soccer leaders before the vote to select the host of the 2026 World Cup.
Putin is scheduled to enter the central Moscow conference hall at around 11 a.m. local time (0800 GMT), before more than 200 national football federations choose between Morocco and the joint United States–Canada–Mexico bid.
Eight years ago at the last World Cup hosting vote, Putin flew in to Zurich to host a news conference celebrating Russia winning the right to stage the 2018 tournament.
Putin should also attend Thursdays opening game, when Russia plays Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter is claiming credit for Morocco not being eliminated by inspectors as a candidate to host the 2026 World Cup, allowing the North African nation to take on the joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada in Wednesdays vote.
Blatter, who was ousted from power at FIFA in 2015 over financial misconduct, has publicly backed the Morocco bid.
He says ”I was fighting for Morocco and for Africa because at a certain time (FIFA) wanted to eliminate Morocco before going to the vote, and now, they are at the vote and I think its a victory also of my intervention, especially.”
Morocco was scored 2.7 out of 5 by FIFAs inspection task force, which marked the North America bid a 4 in the report last month. Morocco would have been disqualified if it had scored lower than 2.
In April, Blatter had tweeted: ”Just recall a fundamental principal in FIFA: Decision taken in 2011: the congress shall decide on the attribution of the World Cup 2026 – and not any sub-committee or task-force. Each candidate must have the right to make a presentation at the congress.”
FIFA is preparing to choose between Morocco and a joint North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
More than 200 national football federations are to set to vote at around midday local time in Moscow (0900 GMT) at their annual meeting one day before the 2018 World Cup kicks off.
FIFA member must pick between the financial security of the United States-Canada-Mexico bid where all venues are ready, and a Moroccan bid that needs to build or renovate all 14 stadiums for a 48-team tournament.
Mexico has twice hosted the World Cup, in 1970 and 1986, the U.S. hosted in 1994, while Morocco has lost in four previous bid campaigns.