Blatter arrives in Russian Federation for World Cup despite Fifa ban

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"Fifa has taken note of Mr Blatter's visit to Russian Federation", a Fifa spokesperson told BBC Sport.

Blatter, who attended a game between Portugal and Morocco on Wednesday, said he would attend a match between Brazil and Costa Rica later this week before flying out of St. Petersburg at the end of the week.

The two men developed a close relationship after Fifa's disputed decision in 2010 to award this year's tournament to Russian Federation instead of England.

I said, 'Why not Ireland?'

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Blatter was hosted Wednesday by Russian World Cup organizers and watched from a hospitality suite as Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning goal. "I take the program they are offering to me, and I am happy to be here", he said. Using allegations from that case, FIFA's ethics committee opened its own case and banned him for eight years. "Thus, the World Cup is adding new audiences to the regular football fans", he added.

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However, Blatter joked about his relationship with Infantino, who is from a neighboring town in the same Swiss region.

He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing despite his ban and struck a defiant tone in Moscow, describing the criminal probe as "an attack on FIFA" and saying he was still president of the organisation.

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Mexico would hold on to win the match 1-0, sending them to the top of Group F ahead of matches against Sweden and South Korea.

"It should not be an embarrassment to Federation Internationale de Football Association that I am here", he told Channel 4 News.

"I had the impression that it's my World Cup", he said. "It was not an easy time for me, it's still not the easiest time".

"Football should not be dominated by politics. (I was told that) it could be with Wales and Scotland together but I said why not Ireland altogether?" he said.

Last week, former Scottish Football Association boss Stewart Regan said an English-led home nations bid is "definitely on the radar".

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The Houthi-run Al Masirah satellite news channel claimed rebel forces hit a Saudi coalition ship near Hodeida with two missiles. Launching ballistic missiles towards densely populated cities and villages breaches the worldwide humanitarian law, he added.

"We haven't seen each other for two and a half years", he said.

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