Ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he is happy to be back in Moscow, three years after his last visit.
Blatter undertook his last visit for the 2018 World Cup qualifying draw in July 2015 at a time when he felt it unsafe to visit any other country for fear of being detained on a warrant from the United States Justice Department in its football corruption investigation.
Shortly afterwards he was suspended by FIFA’s own ethics committee, made subject to a criminal investigation in Switzerland and suspended from football for six years.
He has always denied any wrongdoing and had insisted he hoped to attend the World Cup “in a private capacity.” An invitation was duly extended by Russian President Vladimir Putin last year at the time of the Confederations Cup warm-up tournament.
Blatter, cleared to travel with partner Linda Barras by his doctors after health problems, flew from Zurich to Moscow on an Aeroflot flight, checked in to a city-centre hotel, gave a brief television interview and posed for selfies.
The 82-year-old said he just wanted to enjoy the World Cup because “I am not here to analyse the games.”
He said he was not aware whether he would meet Putin, saying: “I am the guest of the organising committee, but they will make an arrangement to see the president if it were possible.
“I am a guest. I take the programme they are offering to me and I am happy to be here.”
First game for Blatter is Portugal against Morocco at the Luzhniki stadium followed by Brazil v Costa Rica on Friday in St Petersburg.