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Russia Denies Collusion in 2018 World Cup Bid

FILE - Now suspended FIFA President Sepp Blatter (L) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the preliminary draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup at Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, July 25, 2015.

Russia has denied that it colluded to win the right to host the 2018 World Cup, after suspended FIFA chief Sepp Blatter alleged there was a secret deal to award Russia the tournament before the voting took place.

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said Friday it is "absolutely not true" that any collusion took place. He said there was no conspiracy and there will never be any.

In an interview this week with the Russian news agency TASS, Blatter said FIFA officials agreed in a 2010 backroom meeting that the World Cup would go to Russia in 2018 and to the United States in 2022. He added that Michel Platini, head of the Union of European Football Association (UEFA), later pushed for Qatar to get the 2022 tournament instead of the U.S.

In late 2010, FIFA's executive committee awarded Russia the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the 2022 tournament. Both decisions have since been heavily criticized. Both countries are hosting the World Cup for the first time.

Blatter and his potential successor, Platini, are both serving 90-day suspensions. FIFA's ethics committee took action against both men earlier this month shortly after Swiss prosecutors opened a criminal investigation against Blatter involving a $2 million payment to Platini in 2011.

Blatter is not allowed at this point to represent the organization in any capacity.