2018 World Cup CEO says soccer violence concern

Fan violence in Russian soccer remains ”a concern” and

measures including a better ticketing system and security cameras

in stadiums will be introduced to ensure fans are safe during the

2018 World Cup.

Alexey Sorokin, the head of the tournament, addressed the issue

Tuesday while on the sidelines of a sports conference in Dubai,

saying he is ”disappointed” that Russia continues to be

associated with soccer violence while admitting more needs to be

done to stamp out the problem.

The problem was highlighted last month when a match between

Dynamo Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg was called off after the

Dynamo goalkeeper was injured by a firecracker thrown from the

Zenit stands.

”We don’t doubt that we can bring the security up to the level

where it’s absolutely safe both on the streets and inside the

stadium,” he said. ”We are not concerned that the security system

will be compromised in any way. It’s something that is

disappointing that somehow these things are associated with

football and associated with Russian football. We will take very

serious measures to avoid these things in the future.”

Sorokin also struck out at critics who have suggested that

Russia and 2022 World Cup host Qatar won their bids unfairly. There

have never been direct allegations of wrongdoing by Russia, but the

whole World Cup voting process was called into question after two

members of FIFA’s executive committee were suspended following a

British newspaper investigation into vote-trading before the 2018

and 2022 decisions.

”We are clean and we didn’t witness any hints from anyone,

certainly not exco (executive committee) members or those around

them, of improper activities,” Sorokin said.

”There has been a lot of talk mostly about Qatar, regrettably,

but us as well,” he said. ”If anyone had any information, any

proof would be out already. It seems nobody has anything tangible.

Therefore there are only suggestions, insinuations. It has to stop

somewhere. If there is anything, let them show. If there is

nothing, let’s stop the talk about it.”

Sorokin said it would have been ”suicide” to denigrate another

bid let alone try to buy off FIFA voters.

”It’s stupid to even imagine that a bid leader or bid could

openly offer money to somebody. It could be suggested by a person

who has no clue about the bidding,” he said. ”You are afraid

about making the wrong move every day in terms of FIFA ethics,

general ethics. You are afraid to compare yourself to another

competitor, say something wrong in the media. To make such a step

that would end your bid would be suicide.”