Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini invited to 2018 World Cup in Russia
By Kaveh Solhekol
Last Updated: 07/02/16 7:47pm
Russia will welcome Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini to the World Cup in 2018, according to sports minister Vitaly Mutko.
Both men are banned from football for eight years, but Mutko says they are welcome to attend the tournament as VIP guests.
Mutko also confirmed that Blatter and Platini would be invited to next year's Confederations Cup in Russia.
He said: "Of course, we will invite them, I do not see any problems with the events that we are hosting."
Blatter and Platini were banned by FIFA's ethics committee in December after Swiss authorities discovered that Blatter had signed off a £1.2m payment to Platini in 2011 without a written contract.
Both men have appealed to FIFA's Appeal Committee and their cases will be heard later this month.
Before their downfall, they were the two most powerful men in world football. Blatter had been FIFA president for 17 years and Platini had been UEFA president since 2007.
Russia has always been one of Blatter's strongest allies on the world stage.
According to the Russian media, anti-FIFA forces in the United States and England have sought to destabilise football's governing body because they missed out on hosting the World Cups in 2018 and 2022.