Putin Lobbied World Cup Selectors in Secret, Sport-Express Says

Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held secret talks with at least one-third of the members of the group that chose Russia to host soccer’s World Cup in 2018, Sport-Express newspaper reported, citing Vyacheslav Koloskov, a member of Russia’s bid committee.

Putin’s efforts were crucial to Russia’s selection to host the tournament, Koloskov, a former head of the Russian Football Union, told the Moscow-based newspaper in an interview published today. Koloskov said Putin’s “secret” lobbying role couldn’t be disclosed until now.

The Federation Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, the sport’s governing body, picked Russia over England, Portugal-Spain and Belgium-Netherlands to win the right to host the 2018 tournament on Dec. 2.

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