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World Cup 2018

‘Sane people’ want Russia World Cup – bid chief

London (AFP) – The man behind Russia’s 2018 World Cup bid has questioned the sanity of people calling for the country to be stripped of the tournament in a British television interview.

Anti-doping organisations have led the calls after the second McLaren report showed Russia ran a state-sponsored doping programme between 2011 and 2015 involving over 1,000 athletes.

But Alexey Sorokin, the head of the organising committee for next year’s World Cup, said the calls were isolated and “devoid of any logic”.

“It’s very good these calls are very individual,” he told ITV News in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.

“We are happy that all the sane people of the world are looking forward to a great event.

“It’s always sad for us to hear that, but we’ve heard so many of those we’re almost immune to that. We do not see any reason why we should even be discussing taking the World Cup away.

“These urges (calls) are completely unfounded, devoid of any logic. It’s just sad that people think they are attacking Russia, but in fact they’re attacking the very product of the World Cup.”

Russia has already lost the right to stage a World Cup biathlon event and the 2017 Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships.

But world football’s governing body FIFA remains adamant next year’s World Cup will go ahead as planned.

Russian fans instigated ugly scenes of violence during last year’s European Championship in France, prompting fears of trouble in next year’s global event.

But Sorokin does not believe Russian supporters pose more of a threat than any other fans and says a fan ID scheme and intelligence-sharing will prevent hooligans getting into stadiums.

“Of course we took into account what happened in France, but we have a comprehensive and sound security plan,” he said.

“I wouldn’t discriminate between Russian fans and any foreign fans. Fans are equal anywhere.

“There are a certain group which is problematic, but in general these are football-loving people who want to enjoy themselves during the tournament.”

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