MOSCOW, Russia - Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Thursday he believes the World Cup should return to England when Europe next gets its turn to host the tournament.
Blatter has arrived in Moscow to attend matches at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin despite being banned from the game for alleged corruption during his 17 years at the head of world football. The Swiss denied his presence at the World Cup would embarrass his successor, Gianni Infantino.
"We have good contacts with Mr Infantino. He should not be embarrassed because I am going to watch some matches," Blatter told reporters. "I am not here to mix sport and politics."
Blatter, 82, said he had dined with Putin on Wednesday and congratulated him on Russia's organisation: "I dined with Mr Putin. You have to congratulate Russia for the organisation of the World Cup, and naturally the head of state himself."
Blatter oversaw the FIFA process which led to the awarding of this World Cup to Russia and, more controversially, the 2022 tournament to Qatar. The voting process for those tournaments is now tainted by suspicions of corruption.
Last week, using new rules under which all member states vote rather than a 24-member Executive Committee, the 2026 World Cup was awarded to the United States, Canada and Mexico, beating a bid from Morocco.
Asked who should be the next hosts, Blatter said: "I have expressed that the game should go back to the English islands." England were one of the losing bidders against Russia in the vote for the 2018 tournament.