FIFA President Sepp Blatter, in Russia on Monday for the unveiling of the official emblem for the 2018 World Cup, said in an interview that soccer and politics should not mix, although he admitted that FIFA would separate neighbors Russia and Ukraine due to the tensions between them should the latter qualify for the tournament. In particular, the 78-year-old chastised the West for suggesting that soccer’s world governing body should move the tournament due to Russia’s conflict with Ukraine.
As for a boycott of the event, which has also been suggested, Blatter said, "A boycott never achieves anything and does not have a positive effect. FIFA is fully supporting the World Cup in Russia,” He added later: “When we received letters from North America, we answered that this is football. We believe in [Russia] and their government.” He added: “The mass media should help us with this. We have experienced such things in the past at the Sochi Olympics. However, during and after the Games there was not one bad word written about the event.”
When asked if Russia and Ukraine would be kept apart from the finals, Blatter reportedly said, “you can be sure about this.” However, later, FIFA told Reuters that despite his comments, no decision had yet been taken about whether to separate the neighbors.