FIFA president Sepp Blatter said he believes that the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be the "best ever" and told detractors who don’t believe the country should be hosting the tournament "to stay at home," according to the Associated Press.
The world's governing body for soccer has been under fire since corruption claims about how Russia was awarded the tournament in the first place. FIFA investigated those allegations and cleared Russia of any wrongdoing in the bidding process.
Blatter met with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Monday in Sochi, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, and said his organization doesn't get involved with politics and concentrates solely on soccer.
Earlier this month, 13 United States senators wrote to Blatter urging him to intervene and move the tournament out of Russia because of the country’s role in Ukraine and Crimea.
Blatter said those politicians who criticized the decision to place the tournament in Russia should "stay at home.”
"Some people are wanting the World Cup to be taken away from Russia, but we will give one answer to this – we are involved in football and we will not allow politics to get in the way," Blatter told the Tass news agency, via the Guardian.
"Everything is going to plan and nothing will get in the way of Russia hosting the best ever World Cup. The economic situation is not the best, but I know it will get better," Blatter added.
Sochi is one of the 11 host cities for the tournament, which starts June 14, 2018.
"We hosted the [Winter] Olympics last year and now Russia has before it a large, if not to say huge task of preparing for the 2018 world championship in football. These events are no less of a large scale than the Winter Olympic Games," Putin said.
- Scooby Axson