LONDON - England's 2018 World Cup bid team
signalled an end to its high-stakes dispute with rivals Russia
on Thursday, withdrawing a complaint to FIFA and saying it had
accepted an apology for critical comments.
England's campaign team said on Thursday that Russian Sports
Minister Vitaly Mutko had given its bid an "honourable" apology.
"We of course accepted this apology and appreciate the
gesture," the England bid team said in a statement. "We now wish
to move on from this matter."
Alexei Sorokin, director of the Russian bid and the man
whose quoted comments in a Russian newspaper sparked the row,
said he was happy to see a line drawn under the issue.
"I'm glad this whole thing is finally over to our mutual
satisfaction and we can now proceed with our normal work,"
Sorokin told Reuters.
England and Russia are two of four candidates for the right
to stage the 2018 World Cup, with joint-bids from Spain/Portugal
and Belgium/Netherlands the other hopefuls. Japan, South Korea,
Australia, United States and Qatar are candidates for 2022.
Football's governing body FIFA is due to elect the hosts of
the two World Cup tournaments on December 2 in Zurich.
The row between Russia and England only added to the
problems surrounding the bidding process, which has been rocked
by allegations of corruption.
FIFA forbids competing nations from making any comments
about rival bidders.
Sorokin was quoted as telling the Sport-Express daily
newspaper that London had the highest crime rate compared with
other European cities and the highest level of alcohol
consumption among young people.
He later said his comments had been "misinterpreted and
Last week, two members of FIFA's executive committee were
provisionally suspended on suspicion of selling their votes in
the contest to host the two tournaments.
Nigerian Amos Adamu and Tahiti's Reynald Temarii, who have
both denied wrongdoing and said they expect to be cleared, were
banned from all football-related activity for 30 days while
FIFA's ethics committee investigates allegations they offered to
sell their votes when approached by undercover journalists.
FIFA is also investigating claims of collusion and
vote-swapping between unnamed bidders for the 2018 and 2022
bids, which is banned by the rules.
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