Fifa president Sepp Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize, says Russian president Vladimir Putin.
World football’s governing body is engulfed in a corruption crisis, including an investigation into the award of the 2018 World Cup to Russia.
But Putin said that “People like Mr Blatter or the heads of big international sporting federations, or the Olympic Games, deserve special recognition.
“If there is anyone who deserves the Nobel Prize, it’s those people.”
Blatter announced he would be stepping down on 2 June following the arrest of seven Fifa officials as part of a United States investigation that saw 14 people indicted on corruption charges.
A separate criminal investigation by Swiss authorities into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were allocated is also under way.
Blatter, 79, has said he has a “clear conscience”, and is planning to remain in office until Fifa holds an extraordinary congress to elect his successor next February.
“We all know the situation developing around Mr Blatter right now,” added Putin in an interview with Swiss television.
“I don’t want to go into details but I don’t believe a word about him being involved in corruption personally.”