Russia to back Blatter as FIFA chief

MOSCOW - FIFA President Sepp Blatter was assured of Russia's backing in his re-election bid during a meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday.

Blatter visited Moscow to gather support ahead of the FIFA Congress on June 1, where he is being challenged by Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam.

Russian officials have always had good relations with Blatter, referring to the 75-year-old Swiss as "a good friend and ally" after the country was awarded the right to stage the 2018 World Cup last December.

"It is to Blatter's great credit that Russia won the right to host the World Cup," Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who is also a member of FIFA's executive board, was quoted as saying by local media.