By Duncan Mackay

Sepp Blatter has claimed that a boycott of Sochi 2014 would not achieve anything ©FIFA/Getty ImagesJanuary 17 - FIFA President Sepp Blatter has claimed a boycott of Sochi 2014 would change nothing and politicians refusing to attend the event as a sign of protest against Russia's human rights record are "surrendering".

Blatter, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has promised he will attend the Winter Olympics and he expected that "unpleasant issues" would be addressed.

United States President Barack Obama, British Prime and Israeli Prime Ministers David Cameron and Benjamin Netanyahu, German President Joachim Gauck, French leader François Hollande and the heads of Canada, Belgium, Lithuania, Moldova and Georgia have all indicated they will be missing from Sochi 2014.

Several have openly criticised the introduction of a controversial new anti-gay legislation introduced by Russian President Vladimir Putin last year. 

Blatter linked the protests by politicians - Finland's Minister for Sport and Culture Paavo Arhinmäki was the latest yesterday to announce he would not attend the Opening Ceremony - to the demonstrations that overshadowed last year's FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil and have continued in the build-up to this year's World Cup. 

"These two events [Sochi and the World Cup in Brazil] have one thing in common: they have both been misused as a platform for political disputes," he said in his column in FIFA's weekly magazine.

"In the case of the Winter Olympics, this dispute is coming to a head with threats to boycott the Games.

"Such a boycott would change nothing.

"On the contrary, it may be interpreted as a refusal to establish a dialogue on the issue, as was the case with boycotts of the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980 or in Los Angeles in 1984."

Sepp Blatter, who has met Russian President Vladimir Putin on several occasions, has claimed sport must fight every form of social exclusion ©AFP/Getty ImagesSepp Blatter, who has met Russian President Vladimir Putin on several occasions, has claimed sport must fight every form of social exclusion ©AFP/Getty Images

FIFA is set to face many of the same problems that the IOC is currently having to deal with when Russia hosts the 2018 World Cup.

But Blatter pledged to face the issues.

"I believe that such a major event presents a perfect opportunity to strike up conversations and cultivate contacts," he wrote.

"It is also likely that unpleasant issues will be addressed, because FIFA's fight against discrimination does not end with the anti-racism campaign.

"We must fight every form of social exclusion.

"Anyone who decides to boycott the Winter Olympics in Sochi will be surrendering on this important issue, just as anyone running away from a problem will never be able to resolve it.

"This reason alone is why it is important for me to travel to Russia."

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