MOSCOW - Russia's 2018 World Cup bid chief
defended himself on Tuesday over allegations that he broke FIFA
rules by publicly criticising England's rival campaign.
"Those reports are totally false and untrue," Russian bid
head Alexei Sorokin told Reuters on Tuesday after his interview
in the local paper Sport-Express made headlines in the British
Sorokin was quoted as saying in the paper: "It's no secret
that London has the highest crime rate when compared with other
European cities, and the highest level of alcohol consumption
among young people."
Asked by Reuters to explain his comments on London's high
crime rate, Sorokin said: "Yes, that's what I said, but it is
Sorokin also said British media has tried to portray Russia
as a racist country "which is not true".
The displaying of a racist banner by fans targeting former
Lokomotiv Moscow striker Peter Odemwingie, who is now with West
Ham United, was an isolated incident, Sorokin said, and in any
case was directed at the player's performances and was not
Sorokin did say that in his comments he had criticised some
British journalists who in his words "would do anything to make
up a story".
"I must say it's some of the unscrupulous British
journalists that make up such stories," he said on Tuesday.
"As far as myself and all our bid officials are concerned,
we never say anything on the England bid or other rival bidders
for that matter. On the contrary, we try to stay away from any
controversy, in particular criticising our rivals."
Sorokin said he had not been contacted by football's world
governing body about his interview and did not anticipate any
"They are now more concerned dealing with the latest bribery
scandal," he said in reference to investigation into newspaper
claims that two FIFA executive board members were offered to
sell their votes ahead of the decision on the 2018/22 World Cup
Russia and England are bidding for the 2018 finals along
with joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Netherlands.
The United States, Japan, South Korea, Qatar and Australia
are the candidates for the 2022 tournament.
FIFA will announce the winning bids on December 2 in Zurich.
The game's governing body did not give an immediate response
to Reuters over whether it planned to take any action over
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