2018 WORLD CUP

FIFA asks Russia to clarify new law

FIFA President Joseph Blatter
FIFA designated Russia to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup ahead of England and Spain.
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ZURICH (AP)

FIFA says it has asked 2018 World Cup host Russia for ''clarification and more details'' about a new anti-gay law.

The legislation prohibiting ''propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors'' prompted an international furor. The IOC already is seeking answers about how Russia will enforce it during the Sochi Winter Olympics in February.

FIFA says in a statement that Russia has ''committed to provide all visitors and fans with a warm welcome and ensure their safety'' during its monthlong marquee tournament. Soccer's governing body added that it ''trusts that the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts will deliver on this promise.''

FIFA says it supports ''zero tolerance against discrimination.'' It cites a provision in its statutes stating that ''discrimination of any kind ... is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.'' Alexey Sorokin, CEO of the World Cup committee, defended Russia's laws explaining they had been misinterpreted.

"It is designed against active propaganda of homosexuality, not against homosexuality itself. That is a big difference," he was quoted in an article by World Football Insider. Would you like a World Cup where naked people are running around displaying their homosexuality? The answer to that is quite obvious.

"The Olympics and World Cup are not a stage for various views -- not for Nazis, not for any other ways of life. It should be about football and nothing else."

The IOC asked the Russians last week to provide written re-assurances about how the law will be applied.

And Ching-Kuo Wu, an IOC executive board member, said the Russians must "fully understand" that the human rights of athletes, as enshrined in the Olympic charter, have to be respected during the Feb. 7-23 Olympics in the Black Sea resort.

"We want to know during the games what will happen in different situations," Wu told reporters in London. "'What are you (Russia) going to do?' So we are waiting for them to really respond."


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