Russian president and FIFA president open proceedings at the preliminary draw for the 2018 World Cup. Embattled FIFA President Sepp Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize for his work leading world soccer's governing body, according to Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Russia's President made the comments in an interview with Swiss broadcaster RTS that was released Monday, two days after he and Blatter had gathered on stage in St. Petersburg for the preliminary draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, RT reported. "I think people like Mr. Blatter, the leaders of international sports federations or Olympic committees deserve special recognition," Putin told RTS. "If anyone deserves the Nobel Prize, those people do." Blatter, who has denied any wrongdoing, announced last month that he would step down from the top job. An election for his replacement is due to take place in February. Over his career, Blatter has accumulated a dizzying array of awards. The FIFA website lists more than 70 honors from around the globe that he has received, from the French Legion of Honor to the Golden Pin of the Football Association of Serbia. Putin has defended Blatter previously, and he kept up his support in his comments to the Swiss broadcaster. "We're all aware of the situation surrounding Mr. Blatter at the moment. I don't want to get into the details, but I don't believe a word about his being involved in corruption personally," he said. The pressure on FIFA includes separate corruption investigations by authorities in the United States and Switzerland. The Swiss inquiry is focused on the bidding to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.