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Putin hails Blatter re-election

MOSCOW, Russia, June 2- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin congratulated the controversial Sepp Blatter on his re-election as head of world football, predicting he would continue to work 'selflessly" for the game.

Putin, long seen as a close ally of the FIFA chief, championed Russia’s successful bid for the 2018 World Cup where to the surprise of many it beat off a challenge from England.

"I am sure that you will continue to selflessly serve this remarkable sport," Putin on Thursday said in a telegram congratulating Blatter published by the Russian government.

Blatter, who took over FIFA in 1998, has faced widespread calls for reform following allegations of sleaze surrounding the bidding for the 2018 World Cup and the 2022 edition awarded to Qatar.

But delegates at FIFA’s 61st congress returned Blatter by a landslide of 186 votes out of 203 on Wednesday after a call for a postponement of the election by England’s Football Association over the corruption scandals ended in defeat.

"The results of the elections clearly show your great international authority and acknowledge your unique contribution to the work of FIFA and devotion to the popularization and development of football," Putin said.

"I sincerely wish you good health, happiness, well being and new successes in your activities," Putin said.

Putin said Russia was ready for the "closest" cooperation with Blatter especially as it prepares to hold the 2018 World Cup.

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Russia’s winning of the right to hold the 2018 World Cup caused consternation in England although in recent weeks the greatest controversy has surrounded the successful Qatar bid for 2022.

The World Cup will be a landmark event in Russia’s post-Soviet history and will be the first time the country has held an event across the swathe of its territory from the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad to the Urals.

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