Vladimir Putin Says Sepp Blatter Should Win The Nobel Peace Prize

Russia's president made an astonishing defense of the beleaguered FIFA chief during his annual end-of-year press conference.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters during his annual press conference in Moscow on Thursday that he believes suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter is a "very respected man" who should receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Putin's comments came the same day FIFA's ethics committee is due to sit to discuss the fate of Blatter, who is currently serving a 90-day suspension amid bribery allegations.

Putin said, according to Russia's Sputnik news wire:

"As for Joseph Blatter, he is a very respected man. He has done a lot for the development of international football. You know, his contribution in the humanitarian sphere in the world is enormous. He always used or tried using football not just as a sport, but as an element of cooperation between countries and peoples. This is who should be given the Nobel Peace Prize."

The next FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia in 2018 after the country controversially won the vote to hold it in 2010.

Putin's yearly press conference saw the Russian leader touch on a wide range of other issues in front of 1,400 journalists, and he continued his war of words with Turkey, whose military downed a Russian warplane on its border with Syria last month.

He reiterated that the downing of the plane was a "hostile act," and that there was "no prospect" of Russia-Turkey relations improving, the BBC reported.

"It is hard for us to reach agreement with the current Turkish leadership, if at all possible," Putin said, according to

Yeni Safak.

He added: "The Turks decided to lick the Americans in a certain place," the BBC reported.

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