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O’Neill: Russia would feel hard done by if they’re stripped of 2018 World Cup

Ireland boss believes Fifa “had to change at some stage.”

O'Neill plans to travel to Russia for the qualification draw next month.
O'Neill plans to travel to Russia for the qualification draw next month.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

MARTIN O’NEILL BELIEVES Russia would be “particularly disappointed” if the decision to award them the Fifa World Cup is reversed.

The crisis engulfing world football’s governing body has cast fresh doubts over the venue for the 2018 tournament as well as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The FBI will extend their corruption investigations to specifically look at the process by which the two tournaments were awarded, Reuters reported on Wednesday evening.

O’Neill is still planning to travel to St Petersburg next month when the draw for 2018 qualification is due to take place.

He said: “From a Russian viewpoint, I think if you put things in place when Fifa made that decision, regardless of who was in charge, and obviously taking a lot of time to get preparations in place, I think Russia would be particularly disappointed if this was taken away.

There might be a lot of legal implications as well as anything else. Usually you get some time to prepare for these things and Russia have known for a little while so I think they’d be particularly disappointed.

O’Neill was reluctant to go into too much detail on Sepp Blatter’s sudden decision to stand down as Fifa president just days after securing re-election for a fifth term.

“[There was] a lot of pressure in the last couple of days heaped on him and he’s made that decision,” he said.

“I wouldn’t know the ins and outs of what’s happening, I’m just a general reader like anyone else, but there was a lot of pressure on him and he’s made that decision and there will be a change at the top of Fifa.

“I have to say I really don’t know enough and there’s no point in me just following sheep and going along with it.

There is a change here and it looks from a distance as if things had to change at some stage.

Originally published at 19.14 on 3 June

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