Mein Freund Joseph Blatter hatte vergangene Woche in Kopenhagen schon erzählt, dass er einen Termin bei Wladimir Putin hat. So war ich ganz gespannt zu erfahren, was die Präsidenten im Weißen Haus besprochen haben – und wurde vom Informationsdienst der russischen Regierung einmal mehr nicht enttäuscht. So stellt man sich das vor in einer Demokratie. Ich weiß nur nicht, ob Sepp dem Wladimir, wie zuvor dem Barack, auch Tickets für die WM in Südafrika angeboten hat und wie sich das – sollte es so gewesen sein – mit den strengen FIFA-Ethikregelen verträgt. Ich weiß auch nicht, ob Sepp diesmal wieder andere Unbekannte getroffen hat und/oder ob er mit Putin über die Gründung der WACA gesprochen hat. Egal, für heute, Lesebefehl – das Transkript, es lohnt sich:
Wladimir Putin: Mr Blatter, dear friend, I am very glad to see you in Moscow. In Moscow and Russia, your work in the post of FIFA president is very well known.
I have to say that the popularity of football is growing in Russia. I cannot, however, say that our team is doing all of what the country’s fans expect of it, but the development of football is generally on the upswing all the same.
In general, we have a good national team with good potential. What is more important is that we have a program for the development of football to the year 2015. Corresponding federal funds have been allocated and the regions are also allocating funds. Before the end of this year, we plan to build 600 new pitches, including indoor pitches.
You, of course, know that we have decided to officially submit our application to host the World Cup in 2018. We wanted to inform you about this today. A week ago, on October 9, I signed an executive order in order to make this process more official.
Joseph Blatter (as translated): Let me first wish you a happy birthday. Once again, happy birthday!
Mr President, I am very glad about our meeting today; it’s a great honour for me. I am really glad that you greet me as a friend and let me do the same. We have been acquainted for several years in various capacities. I want to tell you that as before, you remain „Mr President“ to me and so accordingly I have addressed you as such.
You said that I am well-known in Russia. Let me answer that by saying that you are well-known around the world. In any case, in every country I visit. Everywhere in the football world, people talk about Russia and about you.
I must say that in Russia there really is a lot being done for the development of football and we value this. Evidence of this is the fact that the president of the Russian Football Union is now a Russian government official. And this did not give us pause. As they say, success goes hand-in-hand with success.
As for the national team – I think that the Russian team will still make it to South Africa. But if it doesn’t happen on the first try in the first round, there’s always the second try in the second round. There are two more games ahead. And with such a team and the whole nation behind them, I am confident that you will succeed.
Wladimir Putin: I hope so.
Joseph Blatter: Of course, I would like to be able to say that I also hope se, but there is the principle of neutrality, which I must observe.
Mr Prime Minister, let me take this opportunity to express gratitude for the Russian government and the Russian Football Union deciding to officially submit an application to host the World Cup in 2018. Regardless of what anyone says about, say, the Olympic Games, this is the world’s main event, the foremost event, Event Number One. Football is football.
Today, over the course of the day, I had the opportunity to familiarise myself with the progress of Russia’s preparations to host the World Cup. And let me take this opportunity to explain my football philosophy. I think that the world football championship, the World Cup within the framework of FIFA must leave a legacy. And just such a concept is being realised here in Russia. So the Russian application gives rise to my most earnest sympathy.
Mr Prime Minister, I am very glad that preparations for the World Cup are now being done on a regional level and are proportionally distributed across all of Russia. You mentioned this yourself and also noted that football isn’t just a game. Indeed, many other things relate to it, such as all of the logistical support – the streets, railroads and all infrastructure. Not only just the stadiums. Consequently, all of this, of course, will remain in Russia and will be of use to its people.
I would also like to mention the great socio-cultural significance of football and it popularity among youth. Football is really a game that motivates the entire world. And it seems to me that this particularly pronounced in Russia.
It should be recognized that things aren’t going so well in the world, although the economic crisis has relented a little bit. But in order to overcome it, we, of course, need positive emotions and hopes. This is exactly what football could give.
And on a more personal note – since we’re talking about the crisis, let me congratulate you with signing the major agreement with China yesterday.
I would also like to mention the commonality in life philosophy that you and I share. Like you, I am very attached to my mother and I wear her locket. And when I once asked you whether you would like to be rich, you said, „I am already rich, I have a rich emotional life and rich feelings.“
Getting back to football – of course, it’s great that Russia has such a large construction programme for football. This is not only football pitches, but roofed stadiums. Of course, it is very good that youth is lure off the streets and into sport facilities where come to know a game based on respect and discipline. It may be said that football is the school of life. A person who plays football may not become the best footballer, but he will become a better person.