Manama (AFP) – Football fans heading to next year’s World Cup in Russia will receive a “hospitable” welcome, the head of the body organising the tournament told the annual FIFA Congress in Bahrain on Thursday.

Shrugging off fears of potential hooliganism surrounding the tournament, Alexei Sorokin insisted the event would be a success.

“We will do our best to ensure that every fan that comes to Russia is welcomed and has an unforgettable experience,” he told delegates.

“Watch great football, in a big, hospitable, culturally multi-faceted country.”

Concerns have been raised following violent clashes between Russian and English fans in Marseille during last summer’s European Champsionships.

A BBC documentary broadcast in February claimed Russian hooligans would target fans in a “festival of violence” next year.

The claims were dismissed as “propaganda” by the head of the Russian Football Federation, Vladimir Markin.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said he has no fears about violence at the tournament.

Sorokin added that “preparations are at full speed and we have no doubt all the work will be done on time”.

The tournament will be played between June 14 and July 15 next year, across 11 Russian cities.